Three ISS Crew Members Return Home, Politics Notwithstanding

Three ISS Crew Members Return Home, Politics Notwithstanding

The United States and Russia may be throwing barbs, sanctions and threats at each other, but relationships over International Space Station (ISS) operations appear unaffected.  A Russian, an American and a Japanese returned to Earth tonight (Eastern Daylight Time) from the ISS, landing in Kazakhstan after 188 days in space.

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and Japanese astronaut (and former ISS commander) Koichi Wakata landed in their Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft at 9:58:30 pm EDT tonight, May 13, 2014 (7:58:30 am May 14 local time at the landing site) under clear blue skies. 

Two Russians (Oleg Artemyev and Alexander Skvortsov) and an American (Steve Swanson) remain aboard the ISS awaiting replacements for the three who landed tonight.   Reid Wiseman (NASA), Alexander Gerst (ESA/Germany) and Maxim Suraev (Russia) are scheduled for launch on May 28.

Earlier today Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia would not allow its rocket engines to be used to launch U.S. military satellites (the RD-180 is used to power United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rockets), said it was considering turning off 11 GPS stations in Russia as of June 1 if the United States does not reciprocate and allow stations for Russia’s GLONASS system on U.S. soil, and hinted that it might not agree to NASA’s plan to keep ISS operating after 2020.   Nothing was said about changes to current ISS operations and NASA insists that everything is AOK on the ISS.

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