U.S. Astronaut Christina Koch, on Thursday departed from the International Space Station, ISS, concluding her record-breaking mission of the longest spaceflight by a woman.
Koch, who served 328 days in space, began her return trip to Earth with two fellow crewmates, Russia’s Alexander Skvortsov and Italy’s Luca Parmitano, aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.
The previous female record of 289 days had been set by another U.S. Astronaut, Peggy Whitson, in 2017.
Koch described Whitson as a mentor while breaking the record in December, 2019 and said “it is beyond an honour to follow in her footsteps.”
The departing Soyuz capsule was expected to parachute down into the Central Asian steppe of Kazakhstan around 0900 GMT.
Kazakhstan hosts the Russian-operated space launch facility Baikonur, which is used for flights to the space station.
The orbiting laboratory has been mostly a collaboration between U.S. and Russian crews and tasked with performing scientific research that would be impossible on the Earth’s surface.
U.S. Astronauts Jessica Meir, and Andrew Morgan, remained aboard the station as flight engineers and Russia’s Oleg Skripochka as commander.
The crew will be brought up to six in early April when U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy, and Russian cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov, and Andrei Babkin, are due to arrive at the ISS.