Coronavirus Forces Detour for Homecoming Astronauts

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir will Require an Odd – and more exhausting – route home after safely landing in the Kazakh steppe on Friday, a Russian healthcare official said, Due to lockdowns caused by the novel coronavirus.

A capsule carrying Morgan, Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka touched down north of the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan in 11:17am local time (10:47am IST), as scheduled, after nine months on the International Space Station.

But because all of Kazakhstan’s provinces have been in coronavirus lockdown, search and rescue teams couldn’t set up base in Dzhezkazgan or provincial centre Karaganda, said Vyacheslav Rogozhnikov, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Medical Biological Agency.

Rather, the Baikonur cosmodrome situated in Kazakhstan and rented by Russia was utilized as a foundation and the crew of the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft will head there after being extracted from the capsule, Rogozhkin said in an interview broadcast online by Russian space agency Roscosmos.

From Baikonur, US astronauts will take a 300km (186 miles) drive into the city of Kyzylorda, where they’ll board a NASA aircraft, he explained, including hours of exhausting property traveling following 205 days in the distance, 3,280 orbits of Earth along with a trip of 86.9 million miles.

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