Soyuz MS-04 Spacecraft Undocks From ISS With 3 ISS Crew Members

She and the other crew members aboard the International Space Station also pursued hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

She and crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russian space agency Roscosmos were expected to land in Kazakhstan at 9:22 pm (0122 GMT Sunday) in a Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft.

"I would say that it didn't feel any longer than my previous two flights of six months in duration", Whitson wrote in an email to the Associated Press that was released by NASA on Friday.

After a more detailed round of medical checks in a nearby inflatable tent, all three crew members were to be flown by helicopter to Karaganda where Yurchikhin will board a Russian space agency plane for the trip home to Star City near Moscow.

The astronaut has said she is unsure whether this most recent space mission will be her last.

Meanwhile, Yurchikhin has completed a whopping 673 days in total, taking the 7th spot on the all-time space endurance list (Whitson is at 8th). It was the second longest single flight by a USA astronaut, only surpassed by Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days on the orbiting laboratory from March 2015 to March 2016.

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Whitson launched on November 17 with 377 days in space already under her belt, and on April 24 broke Jeff Williams' standing United States record of 534 cumulative days in space. Also back on solid ground is US astronaut Jack Fischer after 136 days aloft.

"We are in your debt for the supreme dedication that you guys have to the human mission of exploration", Bresnik told them on the eve of their departure.

Soyuz MS-04 was the 50th Soyuz to fly to the International Space Station.

The space station's crew normally is evenly split between the Russians and the US segment, with three cosmonauts and three astronauts representing NASA, ESA, Japan and Canada.

"I am working on paying forward some of the advice and mentoring that I received on my journey, in hopes that one day those young people will do the same and look back on a life in which they leapt at the opportunities and broke their own records", she said. "I love being up here". After so long in space, she longed for fresh produce and did her best to jazz up the freeze-dried and just-add-water space meals. They had the station to themselves until July 28 when Ryazanskiy, Bresnik and Nespoli arrived.

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