Posted on Thursday December 14th, 2017 by julien
The return home
After 138 days of the VITA mission it was time to return to Earth for ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli.
After brief farewells the departing astronauts climbed into their Soyuz MS-05 and closed the Soyuz and Space Station hatches at 02:02 GMT.
Extensive leak checks were conducted on both the Soyuz spacecraft and the Sokol suits the astronauts wore for the voyage home.
The International Space Station was turned to orient the Soyuz in a suitable direction for undocking. The command for separation was sent with hooks retracting to push the Soyuz away at 05:15 GMT. A thruster was fired on the Soyuz for eight seconds once it was clear of the Space Station to propel it further and faster away.
At these speeds the friction from the atmosphere caused the spacecraft module to reach temperatures of 1600°C making all radio contact impossible.