Home at last. That could say the astronauts who returned to Earth this Friday. They arrived from the International Space Station (ISS) after a few months. But … did you return to the same house? What receives them after such a long time in space is a completely different planet than the one they left. So did the astronauts who have returned from one detention to another.
Look from above
Russian Oleg Skrypochka and American Jessica Meir traveled to the space center in September 2019. It was not until the first cases of Covid-19 in China were confirmed. Another American, Andrew Morgan, came to the ISS in July 2019. "It was almost surreal. We have seen the spread of the pandemic on Earth, ”Meir said recently in a video conference with journalists.
«From here, the earth looks as wonderful as ever. It's hard to believe that there have been so many changes since we left. "
His return was scheduled for Friday at 05:00 GMT. Skrypochka and Meir spent 205 days in space and Morgan 272 days. The corona virus has also forced changes to operations to receive astronauts.
The capsule that it transports back usually ends up in Kazakhstan. And a team picks up space travelers. Then they take them to the nearest airport to fly to their respective destinations.
However, Kazakhstan has been declared a state of emergency and almost all airports are closed. The team that collected the astronauts is also in quarantine. Before undergoing surgery, he had to undergo coronavirus testing to avoid infecting the newcomers. There were also strict precautions with three other astronauts. Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner from Russia and Chris Cassidy from the USA spent two weeks in quarantine before heading to the ISS on April 9th.
The astronauts initially wanted to fly to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russia leases to Kazakhstan and which is still in operation. From there, Skrypochka was to board another plane to Russia. And Meir and Morgan had to travel three hours by land to Kyzylorda Airport in South Kazakhstan. There she takes a NASA plane back to the United States.
Locked up there, locked up here
Astronauts who have returned from space are now locked in their homes. They usually go through a rehabilitation program lasting several weeks. After so many months in space, their bodies have to adapt to gravity again.
But this time the doctors have an additional task. Protect them from the corona virus. "It will be difficult not to hug my family and friends after I have been in space for seven months," said Meir. Together with Christina Koch, she made history by taking the first special walk exclusively for women.
"I think I will feel more isolated on Earth on the ISS. We're very busy with incredible projects here and we don't feel the limitations, ”he added.
The ISS has been orbiting the Earth more than 400 km away since 1998. Five partners are participating in the initiative: the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency.