A three-man crew closed out a 196-day expedition in orbit late Wednesday with a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Soyuz commander Anatoly Ivanishin, and flight engineer Ivan Vagner undocked from the International Space Station at 7:32 p.m. EDT (2332 GMT) Wednesday, and the trio landed at 10:54 p.m. EDT (0254 GMT).
Three new crew members embarked on a six-month expedition aboard the International Space Station Thursday with a launch from Kazakhstan on top of a Russian Soyuz rocket at 0805 GMT (4:05 a.m. EDT). NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner docked with the space station at 1413 GMT (10:13 a.m. EDT) Thursday.
A Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket rolled out to a launch pad Monday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, ready for the first crewed flight to use the modernized Soyuz booster configuration. Liftoff with two Russian cosmonauts and a veteran NASA astronaut is scheduled Thursday on an expedition to the International Space Station.