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Record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson set to return home


NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is all set to return to Earth after saying bye-bye to the International Space Station (ISS), the U.S. space agency has said.

The crew's Russian Soyuz capsule touched down in Kazakhstan at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday.

Peggy Whitson, 57, is also the oldest female astronaut in the history of space exploration, was the first female International Space Station commander, and holds the record for number of spacewalks by a woman. Counting all her flights, she will have logged 665 days in space - the equivalent of more than 1 ½ years.

Expedition 48-49 backup crew member Peggy Whitson of NASA poses for a photograph as the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft is rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, July 4, 2016. After the crew gets checked out in a medical tent on-site, the helicopters will carry them back to Kazakhstan's Karaganda airport for a traditional welcoming ceremony before they board planes and head home.

Whitson, who has logged more days in space than any other USA astronaut, is completing a 10-month mission, her third long duration flight, while Yurchikhin and Fischer are completing 136 days in space.

Yurchikhin will return to Earth with a total of 673 days in space on his five flights, putting him in seventh place on the all-time endurance list. Whitson spent 288 days on the space station during her flight, with Fischer and Yurchikhin spending 136 days on their mission.

The US astronauts are based in Houston, which is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the widespread flooding left in its wake. The astronauts will then fly back to the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, where the NASA Gulfstream jet will pick them up and take them back to Houston.

According to NASA's latest report, the entire group of scientists have conducted several number of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity's only orbiting laboratory. She has completed a 288-day long mission. They are to be joined by Russia's Aleksandr Misurkin, and NASA's Mark Vande Hei and Joseph Acaba, whose Soyuz MS-06 is due to blast off on September 13.

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