Canada-Russia-US space mission’s return

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In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 58 crewmembers Anne McClain of NASA (left), Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (center) and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (right) pose for pictures Nov. 20 in front of their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft during a vehicle fit check. (NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

International cooperation despite political tensions

Oleg Kononenko (Russia) alongside David Saint-Jacques (Canada) and Anne C. McClain (USA) landed in a remote area near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on June 25, 2019, at 8:48 am (local time) after 204 days spent in space.

The Expedition 59 crew travelled 6,5 hours to Earth from the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz capsule. According to the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), all the regular re-entry procedures were maintained, and the team’s health didn’t give concerns. Jeremy Hansen, active Canadian astronaut, while commenting on this return trip at the Canadian Space Agency’s live-stream event, admitted that this Russian system was “very robust.” And Russia has had great success with Soyuz landings. As reported by CBC, Russia has flown more than 140 manned Soyuz missions and hasn’t had a re-entry accident since the early days of the program. In fact, Russia remains the only country which conducts manned space launches and landings. International crewmates cooperate and rely on each other during these missions. The aspect of cooperation among “former Cold War enemies” was also marked by former Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk. He noticed that despite the existing political and ideological differences, current partners “continue to work on a space program” because of their “common vision,” i.e. “to extend the human capability in space.”

On June 26, 2019, the US and Canadian astronauts arrived in Houston, USA, while their Russian commander flew to Star City, Russia. In both Roscosmos and NASA facilities, they go through medical checks and a rehabilitation process as well as see their families. David Saint-Jacques is expected to return to Canada in mid-July.

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