Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Astronauts return to Earth from ISS amid US-Russia tensions

Astronauts return to Earth from ISS amid US-Russia tensions

"This conclusion does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent", NASA said.

A NASA astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut are due to launch next week to join three astronauts who remain in the orbit.

On October 11, American Astronaut Nick Hague and Russian Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will launch to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

NASA stressed in a brief statement issued from its Washington headquarters that Dimitri Rogozin, general director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, had in public comments this week ruled out a manufacturing defect as the cause.

Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) accepted control of the orbital lab today from NASA astronaut and Expedition 56 Commander Drew Feustel.

A crew of three - Roscosmos's Sergei Prokopiev, and USA and German astronauts Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst - remains on the ISS.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in August this year that his country would send a national crew to space on board domestically-developed Gaganyaan spacecraft by 2022, when India celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will attend next week's Soyuz launch and plans to meet with Rogozin to discuss the highly sensitive matter.

The crew was all smiles on return to Earth, with Artemyev first out of the descent module and shown tucking into a fruit and vegetable feast that included a giant cantaloupe melon in footage broadcast by Roscosmos.

Feustel invoked Hollywood comedy actor Jack Black's character Nacho Libre as he tweeted farewell to life on the space station.

Feustel is returning to Earth Thursday at 7:45 a.m. EDT with fellow crew members Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev ending a 197-day stay in space.

Originally, the reports, astronauts believed the hole to be the result of a collision or an incident that happened outside the ISS, but Russian officials now say they have reason to believe the hole was made on the inside of the ISS.

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