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An Extended Space Odyssey: American Astronaut and Russian Crewmates Returned After Prolonged Mission

Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut have successfully completed their remarkable year-long mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), according to Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. The triumphant return saw Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, alongside NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio, safely touch down near the city of Jezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, carrying the returning astronauts, completed its journey back to Earth at 11:17 GMT in a landing that was characterised as “normal mode” by Roscosmos. This remarkable achievement was marked by Prokopyev and Petelin’s impressive record of “370 days, 21 hours, and 22 minutes in space,” establishing a new milestone for the longest flight under the ISS program.

NASA also confirmed the successful landing, announcing, “Frank Rubio is back on Earth after 371 days,” via X, formerly known as Twitter. This noteworthy return marks the single longest spaceflight for any NASA astronaut, underscoring the significance of their mission.

Originally scheduled as a six-month mission, the astronauts encountered an unexpected challenge when their Soyuz spacecraft experienced a leak, likely caused by a collision with a small meteorite. In response, Moscow launched an unmanned rocket to the ISS. The Russian and American astronauts subsequently assumed the responsibilities of the crew that was originally set to replace them.

This year-long mission took place against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the United States and Russia due to the conflict in Ukraine, making the successful cooperation aboard the ISS even more notable.

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