All three returning space travelers are out of their capsule and relaxing in chairs on the steppes of Kazakhstan. She was immediately given a pair of sunglasses to put on.
The crew will participate in standard post-flight medical evaluations. She then received a bouquet of flowers with the greeting, "Welcome back, Peggy". She smiled for the cameras, but sat pretty much motionless. "I am not sure what the future holds for me personally, but I envision myself continuing to work on spaceflight programs", she wrote.
USA astronaut Jack Fischer, meanwhile, chatted on a phone following Saturday night's touchdown. "There are many investigations on the human body that we've been doing up here in orbit, so we'll have to continue those studies as well during that first 45 days", Whitson said during an in-flight interview with Space.com. Yurchikhin now has a total of 673 days in orbit, ranking him seventh among all astronauts and cosmonauts, one place above Whitson by just eight days. Both men flew to the International Space Station in April.
Whitson broke the US record of 534 cumulative days in orbit during the mission.
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He had offered to resign last week after the Utkal Express derailment but the Prime Minister had asked him to wait for sometime. Deputy Speaker Thambidurai and Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan are likely to be inducted into the cabinet from AIADMK.
Ms Whitson, 57, has set a number of records with this mission - she is the oldest spacewoman and the most experienced spacewalker, with 10 spacewalks, including four on this mission. Whitson is completing a 288-day mission that began in November 2016, spanning 122.2 million miles and 4,623 orbits of Earth - her third long-duration stay on the outpost. She is also the first female commander of the ISS.
Most of the flight went by quickly, she noted, although the last week has seemed to drag by.
The astronauts' return comes as the Texas city of Houston, home to NASA's Johnson Space Center, has been struggling to get back to normalcy after a week of deadly flooding triggered by Hurricane Harvey.
NASA space champ Peggy Whitson is on her way back to Earth to wrap up a record-breaking flight.
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The Meteorological Department said that the city recorded 298 mm of rainfall, the highest in a day since 1997. Mishra said that the civic body was responsible for the floods and the open manholes too.
With all three seats filled, the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft undocked from the space station's Poisk module at 5:58 p.m. EDT (1758 GMT), kicking off the crew's 3-hour and 24-minute journey back to Earth.
A Soyuz capsule carrying her and two other International Space Station crew members safely landed on time in Kazakhstan.
Altogether, Whitson has spent 665 days off the planet, more than any other American - also more than any other woman.
Whitson wrote she will "hugely miss the freedom of floating and moving with the lightest of touch, especially those first few days after my return when gravity will especially SUCK", the Post reported.
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