Two Russians, American land back on Earth after ISS mission: Moscow

FLORIDA (AFP): Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut landed back on Earth Wednesday after spending a year at the International Space Station (ISS), Russia’s Roscosmos space agency said.

“Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio, who spent a year on board the ISS landed near the city of Jezkazgan in Kazakhstan,” Roscosmos said.

It said the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft carrying them reached Earth at 1117 GMT in a landing that took place in “normal mode.”

Roscosmos said Prokopyev and Petelin spent “370 days, 21 hours and 22 minutes in space — the longest flight under the iSS program.”

NASA also confirmed the landing.

“Frank Rubio is back on Earth after 371 days,” it said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The single longest spaceflight for any of our NASA astronauts comes to a close.”

The three men had travelled on a Russian Soyuz to the ISS last year, in a mission that was meant to last only six months.

But the Soyuz suffered a leak probably due to impact from a tiny meteorite, so Moscow sent another rocket with no crew onboard.

The Russians and American then carried out the mission of the crew that was due to replace them.

The trio spent a year on the ISS — a rare venue for cooperation between the US and Russia — as tensions between Washington and Moscow intensified over the conflict in Ukraine.