A U.S.-Russian space crew just arrived to a whole new world.
Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan, both NASA astronauts, and Soyuz Commander Oleg Skripochka, from Russian space agency Roscosmos, arrived on Earth in Kazakhstan Friday, after leaving the International Space Station, NASA said in a press release. The trio was in space for more than 200 days.
Morgan’s mission began late last July, and in those nine months, he conducted seven spacewalks, four of which sought out “evidence of dark matter in the universe.”
Both Meir and Skripochka left for outer space in late September, where they spent 205 days.
Meir’s trip was a landmark one as she and Christina Koch conducted the first three all-woman spacewalks. Skripochka will have spent 536 days in orbit by the end of his third spaceflight.
But gravity wasn’t the only thing welcoming the crew back home.
Coronavirus-related safeguards were enacted to protect the team from the potentially deadly illness, NBC Los Angeles reports.
This included testing the recovery team and medical personnel — which helped the astronauts out of their capsule and conducted post-flight checks — for the illness and observing them for almost a month prior to the astronauts’ arrival.
Prior to landing, Morgan said that the astronauts tried to stay abreast of coronavirus developments but had trouble understanding exactly what was taking place, according to the outlet.
Meir called the experience “quite surreal,” noting, “The Earth still looks just as stunning as always from up here, so it’s difficult to believe all the changes that have taken place since both of us have been up here.”
Skripochka will return to Russia, where he’ll be observed for three weeks at the Star City cosmonaut training center’s medical facility, near Moscow, Roscosmos told the outlet.
The space corporation has seen 42 workers test positive for coronavirus and two die after testing positive. Another, whose death was attributed to pneumonia, was thought to have had the virus.
Officials at the facility will wear hazmat suits when engaging with Skripochka to protect him from COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.
Morgan and Meir will leave Kazakhstan on a NASA flight bound for Houston.