British astronaut Tim Peake, along with his Principia crewmates Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra, last month returned to Earth from their six-month stay aboard the International Space Station. The 400km journey back to their home planet lasted just three hours, with a safe crash landing in the Kazakh steppe at 10:15 local time on 18 June 2016.
The Soyuz capsule, commanded by Russian cosmonaut Malenchenko, uncoupled from the ISS at 05:52, and braked from the station’s cruising speed of nearly 29,000km/h. The slowing of the capsule caused it to drop into a lower orbit of the Earth, and it broke through the atmosphere shortly afterwards. The crew module detached safely from the orbital module, and the parachutes deployed, further slowing the aircraft. Moments before the descent capsule reached the ground, a series of retrorockets fired, and specially designed, spring-loaded seats will have absorbed some of the shock of the landing.
Tim Peake joined ESA for his first press conference back on Earth on Tuesday 21 June 2016. Click here to watch the press conference in full.
After their departure, the Principia crew left behind three astronauts to maintain the experiments and control the space station, and they will be joined this Thursday by cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and NASA’s Kate Rubins.