After 2,600 orbits around Earth, three members of the International Space Station have landed safely back to Earth. In total, Scott Tingle (US), Norishige Kanai (Japan), and Anton Shkaplerov (Russia) spent 168 days conducting research and living in low-Earth orbit aboard the ISS.
The trio landed at 8:39 a.m. EDT in Kazakhstan. Expedition 55 was the first mission for astronauts Tingle and Kanai. However, it marked the 532 days in space over the course of three flights for cosmonaut Shkaplerov.
This particular crew conducted hundreds of experiments aboard the station. Those included plant growth testing, microgravity research, and materials testing. The three men also helped bring on board four cargo crafts with supplies and experiments from a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft's arrival in December. Another Dragon dropped shipments off in April, and there was Orbital ATK's Cygnus resupplying the craft in May.
Three @Space_Station crewmembers returned to Earth Sunday after 168 days of living and working in low-Earth orbit, where they completed hundreds of @ISS_Research experiments on the effects of microgravity; plant growth in space + more. Details: https://t.co/BV2Z6EEZTh pic.twitter.com/Nbe8sWhZPl— NASA (@NASA) June 3, 2018
Tingle and Kanai were responsible for several spacewalks while on the ISS. They worked on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm system. Shkaplerov also conducted his own record-setting spacewalk in February with cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. The duo replaced an electronics box to fix a communications antenna. The spacewalk hit a time of 8 hours and 13 minutes, and while the spacewalk lasted longer than anticipated, the cosmonauts now hold the longest spacewalk in Russian history.
The Expedition 55 crew also helped educate youth around the world interested in becoming an astronaut via NASA's Year of Education on Station program.
JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa said he was proud of Kanai's performance while on the ISS.
"I am very pleased that Astronaut Kanai, who completed a long stay at the International Space Station (ISS), returned safely to the Republic of Kazakhstan by the Soyuz spacecraft (53S/MS-07) today.
"Astronaut Kanai has steadily carried out numerous missions under the mission theme 'clues to health and longevity are in space' by exploiting his background as a doctor.
"Through the ISS long-term stay of Astronaut Kanai, he has informed the world that the ISS project is a successful example of international cooperation and collaboration and that Japan is indispensable among them."
Three crewmembers still remain on the ISS -- American astronauts Drew Feustel and Rickey Arnold, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. There will be another three astronauts launching on Wednesday to join the ISS team.