Soyuz MS-24 Returns Three to Earth

Soyuz MS-24 Returns Three to Earth

Russia’s Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft returned two professional astronauts — a Russian and an American — and a spaceflight participant from Belarus to Earth today. The trio landed in Kazakhstan just after noon local time (early morning EDT). NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara completed a 6-month mission aboard the International Space Station while the other two were in space for just two weeks.

Soyuz MS-24 commander Oleg Novitskiy, O’Hara, and Marina Vasilevskaya, a flight attendant from Belarus, landed at 3:17 am EDT (12:17 pm in Kazakhstan) as narrated by NASA’s Rob Navias and a female Russian interpreter conveying communications between the crew and mission control.

The cloud of dust that appears at touchdown is from thrusters that fire moments before landing to cushion the impact.

O’Hara launched on Soyuz MS-24 on September 15, 2023 with Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub. They are staying on the ISS for a year-long mission. O’Hara was in space for 204 days.

L-R: NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps, Tracy Dyson and Loral O’Hara and Belarussian spaceflight participant Marina Vasilevskaya aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA. O’Hara and Vasilevskaya returned to Earth today on Soyuz MS-24.

She was replaced by Tracy Dyson, who launched two weeks ago on Soyuz MS-25 with Novitskiy and Vasilevskaya. Soyuz spacecraft can only remain in orbit for about six months, so they came back in Soyuz MS-24 and left the fresh MS-25 to bring Kononenko, Chub and Dyson back this coming September.

Vasilevskaya was chosen through a selection process to be the first Belarussian in space since Belarus declared its independence from the Soviet Union and the first spacefaring woman from that country. Novitsky is an experienced Russian commander in charge of the visiting mission.  Their mission was supposed to last 12 days, but the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was scrubbed 20 seconds before liftoff on March 21. They lifted off successfully two days later, but Baikonur and the ISS were in different relative positions by then and they had to take a longer trajectory (two days instead of three hours) to get there. To give her the full 12 days on ISS, the mission was extended to 14 days.

With their departure, the ISS is now back to its usual crew complement of seven:  Roscosomos’s Kononenko and Chub who arrived on Soyuz MS-24 and will depart on Soyuz MS-25; NASA’s Dyson who arrived and will depart on Soyuz MS-25; and NASA’s Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeannette Epps and Roscosmos’s Alexander Grebenkin who arrived on SpaceX’s Crew-8 spacecraft in March and will stay for about 6 months. They are “Expedition 71.”

ISS Expedition 71, L-R: Alexander Grebenkin (Roscosmos), Tracy Dyson (NASA), Michael Barratt (NASA), Nikolai Chub (Roscosmos), Matthew Dominick (NASA), Oleg Kononenko (Roscosmos), Jeanette Epps (NASA). Credit: NASA


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