Watch astronaut Peggy Whitson return to Earth after 288 days in space

Space Station Crew Returns to Earth Tonight Watch It Live

WHITSON TO RETURN FROM SPACE STATION

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who set multiple USA space records during her mission aboard the International Space Station, along with crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, safely landed on Earth at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday (7:21 a.m.Kazakhstan time, Sunday, Sept. 3), southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. The men flew up in April.

All three briefly held hands for a photo op, before being carried one by one in their chairs to the medical tent. Landing occuured at 9:21 p.m. EDT (0121 September 3 GMT), though it was Sunday morning local time at the touchdown site.

Her two Soyuz MS-03 crewmates - Oleg Novitskiy and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet - returned to Earth as planned on June 2 with one empty seat, leaving Whitson behind aboard the station with Yurchikhin and Fischer.

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NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik has taken over command of the station from Yurchikhin, according to NASA. He offered up special praise for Whitson - "American space ninja" - and wished them all Godspeed. Only seven Russian men have logged more time, including Gennady Padalka, the world record-holder with 878 days in orbit.

Whitson, who is now on her third mission aboard the ISS, also made the first 4K live stream from space in April, transmitting the stream to the 2017 National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas. Scientists on the ground said it often was hard to keep up with her. Tortillas transformed into apple pies on her watch. Also during this flight, 57-year-old Whitson became the oldest woman in space. She stayed aboard to fill a vacancy after Russian Federation scaled down its station staff from three to two cosmonauts.

Her streak is unmatched by any other American. Her just-concluded mission lasted 288 days. She was hungry for pizza and couldn't wait to use a regular flush toilet again.

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Historic rainfall in the region has wrought particular damage on built up Houston and NASA confirmed that the Johnson Space Center had seen "significant" damage in a Friday tweet.

"Because of the after-effects of Hurricane Harvey, the NASA Gulfstream jet was unable to leave Houston in time to make it to the staging city of Karaganda in order to perform what is called a "direct return" of the crew back to Houston", Navias said Saturday morning as the crewmembers said farewell to their colleagues in space. Their Russian Soyuz capsule undocked from the International Space Station just hours earlier.

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