Crew members from space station to return to Earth Thursday

Technology Desk: The crew members of the Expedition 43 will return to Earth after more than six months of doing scientific research and technology demonstrations in space. The three astronauts will depart the orbiting laboratory Thursday, June 11 after a one-month delay.

The three International Space Station crew members - US astronaut Terry Virts, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, were to return to Earth on May 14, but had to spend another month in the orbit.

Coverage of their station departure and returning to Earth will be showed on NASA Television.

Coverage begins at 10:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 10, when Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts hands over command of the space station to cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, said NASA on its official website.

At 6:20 a.m the following day, Virts of NASA and Flight Engineers Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA and Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the space station and land in Kazakhstan at 9:43 a.m. (7:43 p.m. Kazakh time).

The astronauts will return after 199 days in space, during which they travelled more than 84 million miles since their launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 24.

Their return date was rescheduled to allow Roscosmos to investigate the cause of the loss of the unpiloted Progress 59 cargo ship in late April.

The delay has made Cristoforetti to set the record for the longest time a woman has spent in space on a single spaceflight, surpassing NASA astronaut Sunita Williams’ 195-day record, set in 2007.

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