International Space Station crew returns safely to Earth

International Space Station Crew Returns Safely to Earth

Three crew members of the International Space Station Expedition 40 returned to Earth Wednesday after a 169-day stay in orbit.

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev touched down in a Soyuz capsule in Kazakhstan.

By the end of their six-month mission, they'd traveled more than 71.7 million miles and completed more than 2,700 orbits around Earth.

The crew was greeted by medics and colleagues handing them watermelons and apples. Daily Mail explains that the fruit was given because the astronauts were craving it and they hoped that it would re-hydrate them.

10 PHOTOS
International Space Station Soyuz
See Gallery
International Space Station crew returns safely to Earth
ZHEZKAZGAN, KAZAKHSTAN - SEPTEMBER 11: Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA rests in a chair outside the Soyuz capsule just minutes after he and flight engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), landed in their Soyuz TMA-12M capsule Septem 11, 2014 in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev returned to Earth after more than five months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 39 and 40 crews. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
HEZKAZGAN, KAZAKHSTAN - SEPTEMBER 11: Expedition 40 flight engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Commander Steve Swanson of NASA sit outside the Soyuz TMA-12M capsule just minutes after they landed September 11, 2014 in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev returned to Earth after more than five months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 39 and 40 crews. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
ZHEZKAZGAN, KAZAKHSTAN - SEPTEMBER 11: Ground support personnel are seen at the landing site after the Soyuz TMA-12M capsule landed with Expedition 40 flight engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Commander Steve Swanson of NASA capsule September 11, 2014 in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev returned to Earth after more than five months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 39 and 40 crews. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
BAIKONUR, KAZAKHSTAN - MAY 28: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Soyuz TMA-13M lifts off from the Russian Baikonour cosmodrome May 28, 2014 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The three-man crew bound for the International Space Station includes flight engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space A, Soyuz commander Max Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency and flight engineer Reid Wiseman of NASA. (Photo by Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)
(L-R) European Space Agency's German astronaut Alexander Gerst, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and US NASA astronaut Gregory Wiseman walk after their space suits were tested at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome late on May 28, 2014 . The launch of the Soyuz TMA-13M with the international crew aboard is scheduled early on May 29 local time. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia's Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of European Space Agency's German astronaut Alexander Gerst, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and US NASA astronaut Gregory Wiseman blasts off from the launch pad at Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome early on May 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
BAIKONUR, KAZAKHSTAN - MAY 28: In this handout frm NASA, a 30-second exposure capture the Soyuz TMA-13M rocket launching with Expedition 40 Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA), and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman of NASA, onboard May 28, 2014 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Suraev, Gerst and Wiseman will spend the next five and a half months aboard to the International Space Station. (Photo Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)
BAIKONUR, KAZAKHSTAN - MAY 27: (L to R) Expedition 40 Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA), Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman of NASA, give the thumbs up during a press conference at the Cosmonaut Hotel May 27, 2014 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Suraev, Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman of NASA will launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station on May 29. Photo Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)
BAIKONUR, KAZAKHSTAN - MAY 28: Expedition 40 Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) performs the traditional door signing at the Cosmonaut Hotel prior to departing the hotel for launch May 28, 2014 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Suraev, Gerst and Wiseman will launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station on May 29. (Photo Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


EURONEWS reported that "during their time on board the International Space Station, the returning crew tackled a record number of science experiments, upgraded Robonaut - the station's humanoid robot - and repaired broken equipment."

"We did a lot of maintenance, which is good and bad," CBS quotes Swanson as saying. "I love doing maintenance, but it means things broke."

The crew also conducted microgravity physiology and human health research to gather data on long-duration space flight. U.S. and Russian space agencies are planning to send two crew members to the ISS for an entire year in 2015.

To date, the longest single mission to the ISS was 215.4 days, when Soyuz TMA-9 carried an astronaut and a cosmonaut to orbit. The mission lasted from October 2006 to April 2007.

The ISS itself has been continuously occupied since 2000. Right now there's a three-person crew aboard the ISS, which will expand to six astronauts and cosmonauts after the launch of the next Soyuz capsule Sept. 25.

More from AOL
Puppy's first howl
Australian architects design home hanging from cliff
Cops: NY man hid drugs in anti-drug stuffed animal
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.