London: A three-member crew, including British astronaut Tim Peake, today landed back on Earth at the end of a seven-hour return journey after completing a historic six-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS). A Soyuz capsule carrying Major Peake and Russia’s Yury Malenchenko and NASA’s Tim Kopra touched down in Kazakhstan after spending 186 days in orbit.
“Truly elated, the smells of Earth are just so strong, just so good to be back on Earth. I’ll look forward to seeing the family,” Peake said after his landing. Peake is the first person to fly to space under the UK banner since Helen Sharman in 1991 and made the first spacewalk by a UK astronaut. During the mission, Maj Peake also remotely steered a robot on Earth and ran the London Marathon.
“It is going to be quite tricky for me to adapt. It’s probably going to take me two or three days before I feel well,” Peake had said in his last news conference before the return. “It will take me several months before my body fully recovers in terms of bone density. And it will be interesting to see any lasting changes to eyesight etc. But generally speaking in two or three days I should be fairly comfortable back on Earth,” he added.
After medical checks, Maj Peake will be flown from Karagandy airport on a Nasa gulfstream jet to Norway, and then on to Cologne, Germany, where the European Astronaut Centre is based.
On 15 January this year, a month after arriving at the station, Peake participated in the first spacewalk for a UK astronaut. In April, he secured himself to a treadmill on the ISS to run the distance of the London Marathon, completing the event in three hours, 35 minutes. He also participated in a programme of experiments in
medical science, radiation physics and materials.