NASA’s space station residents learned how to pick their first fragrant — but hard to smell! — food items on Sunday morning: some cherry red peppers.
In a live video, Expedition 53 crew members Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer peered out of the hatch of the Soyuz spacecraft and looked towards Earth for the first time in 377 days.
The trip to Earth is somewhat unusual for American astronauts. In fact, the ISS was built by three partners that worked together for about a decade: the US, Russian Federation and the European Space Agency. The Soyuz’s departure marks the last-ever space shuttle launch ever, as the ISS is flying without it, and means for the first time that no astronauts or cosmonauts will return to Earth until the next set of Soyuz launches in 2014.
On Sunday morning, Whitson and Fischer slowly made their way toward Earth, followed by a small group of people on Earth that watched the livestream of their launch and splashdown. On Sunday afternoon, they arrived back on Earth, landing into the Pacific about 125 miles north of Victoria, British Columbia.
The astronauts plan to explore the Soyuz spacecraft and help clean it and inspect some parts before taking it back for good later this week.