About 250 miles above Earth’s surface, the International Space Station orbits the planet housing the only six people in space. Regarded as the world’s only orbiting laboratory, astronauts rotate in and out with each other on missions known as “expeditions.”
On Saturday, NASA astronaut and U.S. Army Colonel Tim Kopra is scheduled to head back to Earth along with his Russian and British counterparts Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Peake. Their departure will mark the end of Kopra’s second trip to space and the completion of “Expedition 47.”
The trio will undock from the ISS and land in Kazakhstan via their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft after 186 days in space. Footage of the return will be aired on NASA TV.
Since arriving to the ISS — originally as members of Expedition 46 — Kopra and his crew mates have conducted research in physical science, chemistry, human research, biology and more.
One experiment focused on muscle and bone atrophy experienced by mice during long term spaceflight. The data will be used to find treatments for people who endure muscle and bone loss from ailments such as cancer and muscular dystrophy.
The remaining three astronauts will stay aboard the ISS under the command of astronaut Jeff Williams of Wisconsin. There William’s and his crew will anticipate the arrival another three new crew members. On July 7, NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins of California will head to the ISS joined by her Russian and Japanese counterparts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi. This will mark the start of Expedition 48.
Click here to track the ISS in reference to its location over the Earth’s surface.