March 4, 2016
Astronaut Scott Kelly has finally returned to Houston, Texas in the United States on Thursday, while his Expedition 46 crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov have returned to Russia.
Their space capsule Soyuz TMA-18 landed safely in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. (EST) last March 1.
Kelly and Kornienko were in space for a record-setting 340 days, while Volkov lived in space for 182 days.
The pair’s one-year mission afforded researchers a rare opportunity to study the medical, physiological, as well as psychological and performance challenges astronauts face during long-duration spaceflight such as how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation, and stress.
The science will continue for months and years as the data are collected and analyzed, an important step in the first phase of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) efforts to prepare humanity for the journey to Mars.
With Kelly, Kornienko and Volkov now back on Earth, another trio remains orbiting Earth on the International Space Station (ISS).
Expedition 47 commander Tim Kopra and flight engineers Tim Peake and Yuri Malenchenko will continue their mission on the orbital lab conducting science and maintenance until June.
Soon, another set of space station crew members will join them.
Astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will ride the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft on March 18 (U.S. time) for a six-hour trip to their new home in space.