International Space Station trio steppe back down to Earth

10 Nov 2014

Maxim Suraev, Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst, via Twitter

After nearly six months of duty on the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts Maxim Suraev, Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst returned to Earth yesterday, landing safely on the Kazakhstan steppes.

Around three-and-a-half hours after stepping into their Soyuz capsule to leave the ISS, Suraev – a veteran Russian cosmonaut – and his colleagues touched down, denying the world any more of their consistently awesome inter-stellar tweets.

NASA’s Wisemen and Gerst, an ESA astronaut from Germany, have been posting mind-blowing tweets in recent weeks, with the former’s “one last look outside” photography this month particularly awe-inspiring.

A stream of images taken from on the ISS showing the beauty of Earth by the trio portrayed our planet in numerous ways, with educational vines and videos aboard the spacecraft also catching the eye.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to spend 165 days up here. With that said, I’m looking forward to heading home,” Wiseman said during a change-of-command ceremony carried live from the space station on NASA Television.

“Touchdown!” tweeted Gerst upon landing back on earth. “Earth smells amazing. It is good to be back, even though gravity sucks right now.”

The ISS’s last few weeks have been crammed with incidents, with the departure of a Dragon cargo capsule sent to the station by private launch company SpaceX and the arrival of a Russian freighter, hours after an unmanned Antares rocket delivering supplies exploded just seconds after lift-off in the US.

NASA’s Barry ‘Butch’ Wilmore is the new station commander, still aboard the ISS with Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev – Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov, NASA’s Terry Virts and Italy’s Samantha Cristoforetti will be joining them later this month.

But its the social media dynamite contributed by the recently returned trio that we’ll most miss. Over to you Butch, can your team keep up the good work?

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic