On Tuesday, astronaut Scott Kelly will leave the International Space Station after spending a full year in orbit.
BuzzFeed Science spoke with NASA spokesperson Dan Huot at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to get a play-by-play of what Kelly and his crew-mates will be going through to get home:
1. First, Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov will strap themselves in to a Soyuz spacecraft docked to the station.
2. At 4:40 p.m. ET, the hatch to the Soyuz will be closed and the crew will perform a series of leak checks to make sure everything is ready to go.
3. At 8:05 p.m. ET, the Soyuz will detach from the Space Station and slowly back away with some thrusters.
4. The Soyuz will then perform a "de-orbit burn", using thrusters to slow it down until it enters Earth's atmosphere.
5. After the burn, the capsule will fall for 53 minutes. During that descent the Soyuz will become a fireball and the crew will experience up to 5 Gs of force.
6. Parachutes will deploy before the Soyuz touches down in a remote part of Kazakhstan at around 11:25 pm ET.
7. After that, the crew will just kinda chill in the capsule as the search-and-recovery forces locate and land right next to them.
8. The search-and-recovery team will land, make sure everything looks good, and orient the capsule before pulling the astronauts out.
9. The ground team will set up an inflatable tent for medical checks and place the astronauts into some comfy chairs as they do some preliminary exams.
10. This downtime will be the first chance the astronauts have to use a satellite phone to call friends and family.
11. In the tent, the astronauts will perform some basic tests to see what people who haven't experienced gravity in a year are capable of.
12. Then, each astronaut will be loaded into their own helicopter and flown to an airport in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
13. At the airport there will be a brief ceremony before the Russian and American astronauts go their separate ways.
14. Kelly will then be loaded onto a NASA aircraft and flown right to Houston. They want to rush him to the lab before he fully adjusts to life back on Earth.
15. When Kelly gets off the plane, he will be greeted by his family, NASA officials, and Dr. Jill Biden before being swept away to the lab.
16. Kelly will have to stay in "crew quarters" for the first night back, but will be able to spend time with family after that first night.
Safe travels, Commander Kelly!
Science Writer, Fossil Beastmaster
Contact Alex Kasprak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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