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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Expedition 41 Set to Return to Earth Tonight

By Phil Plait

Tonight (Sunday night/Monday morning) at 00:31 UTC (19:31 Eastern), a Soyuz-13M space capsule will undock from the International Space Station.* After moving away from the facility, it will begin a de-orbit burn, ram through Earth’s air, and then land in Kazakhstan three hours later, scheduled for 03:58 UTC. On board are three astronauts: American Reid Wiseman, Russian Maxim Suraev, and German Alexander Gerst.

You can watch the procedure live on NASA TV, as well as NASA’s Ustream channel (embedded above). The European Space Agency will also stream it. Actually, I love the line they use to describe the journey: “Their three-hour trip back to Earth will reduce their speed from 28 800 km/h to zero.”

Hard to argue with that. It’s succinct.

When the astronauts close the Soyuz-13M hatch behind them, Expedition 41 will officially end, and Expedition 42 on board the ISS begins (which is how the numbering generally works). 42 will then consist of three astronauts who have been on board since September, and they’ll be joined later this month by three more astronauts when that trio launch aboard a Soyuz to ISS. SpaceFlight101 has a good overview of Expedition 41.

Correction, Nov. 9, 2014: This post originally misstated when, in Eastern time, Soyuz-13M was undocking from the International Space Station. It was at 19:31 Eastern time Sunday, not 21:31.

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