Expedition 59 Crew Return to Earth Aboard Soyuz MS-11

Pablo Tucker
June 27, 2019

Nasa astronaut Anne McClain, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and Canadian Space Agency record-holder David Saint-Jacques emerged from the space craft to applause from support crews, after touching down near the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan.

NASA described the landing, which was less than a minute ahead of schedule, as "picture perfect" as the capsule descended.

When the crew established contact with the search-and-recovery forces right before landing they said they were doing well.

Their journey back to Earth lasted more than six hours.

Former astronaut Robert Thirsk, who co-hosted a viewing party at the Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Longueuil, Que., on Monday night, said descending from space in the capsule is a shock to the body comparable to a vehicle crash.

The astronauts were put on camping chairs in the sun just by the capsule for some respite and initial medical checks.

The trio's launch on Dec 3 was the first after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague failed in October just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

Saint-Jacques, 49, took part in a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk in April and a "cosmic catch" of SpaceX Dragon cargo using Canadarm2 - the first time a Canadian astronaut has operated the robotic arm to perform the feat.

Saint-Jacques' mission will be the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian astronaut.

The Governor-General Julie Payette welcomed the return of the astronaut to Earth.

Officials of the Canadian space Agency said that the restoration of Saint-Jacques is their top priority. This may mean that some time would be hard for him to walk and generally move.

"An important aspect for us here at the Agency is preparing for his return in the next few weeks - rehabilitation, physical restoration, adaptation to life at normal gravity at 1G", said Gilles Leclerc, the Director of the Agency for space research.

Saint-Jacques, who is married and has three young children, earlier said he was looking forward to seeing his family again.

From Houston, the astronaut is expected to take part in a news conference on Friday.

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