This evening, three astronauts will be hitting the long and dusty road from the International Space Station (ISS) all the way to Earth. You’ll be able to watch it live online via NASA TV below.
NASA’s record-smashing Jeff Williams will be returning alongside Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka in the Soyuz TMA-20M spaceship and landing in rural Kazakhstan tonight. The live broadcast began at 9am ET (2pm BST), but they’re expected to undock from the ISS at 5.51pm ET (10.51pm BST) and land on Earth at 9.14pm ET (2.14am BST, September 7).
The trio of astronauts are part of Expedition 48. Their 172-day-long mission started in March 2016, throughout which Williams has been the commander, while Ovchinin and Skripochka have served as flight engineers.
In a statement, NASA said: “Together, the Expedition 48 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.”
The expedition has become a landmark mission, especially for Williams. On August 24, after racking up 520 days in space over four separate missions, he became the record holder for the longest time spent in space by any American. The previous record holder was Scott Kelly, who spent the bulk of his days during his year-in-space mission. By the time Williams lands, he will have spent 534 days in space.
The crew returning to Earth tonight will leave behind Kate Rubins from NASA, Russian Anatoly Ivanishin, and Takuya Onishi of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. They will welcome a new crew on September 23.
But for now, grab some popcorn and stay tuned to the NASA TV live-stream below.