Outgoing space station commander Randy Bresnik, joined by Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and European Space Agency flight engineer Paolo Nespoli, returned to Earth early Thursday after nearly five months in orbit. Their Soyuz MS-05 capsule undocked from the International Space Station at 12:14 a.m. EST (0514 GMT), and landed on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 3:37 a.m. EST (0837 GMT).
In a brief White House ceremony Monday, President Trump formally directed NASA to set its sights on sending astronauts back to the moon followed by eventual flights to Mars as part of a new national space policy intended to make sure America “once again leads and inspires all of humanity” on the high frontier.
After a 22-day stay at the International Space Station, an Orbital ATK Cygnus supply ship is set for departure Wednesday en route to a higher orbit for release of 14 CubeSats for commercial weather monitoring and technology demonstrations. The robotic Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled for release from the station’s robotic arm at 8:10 a.m. EST (1310 GMT) Wednesday.