Coronavirus forces detour for homecoming astronauts

Coronavirus forces detour for homecoming astronauts

NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir will take an unusual – and more tiring – route home after landing safely in the Kazakh steppe on Friday, a Russian health official said due to lockdowns caused by the new corona virus. A capsule containing Morgan, Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka hit as planned nine hours southeast of the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan at 1117 local time, after nine months on the International Space Station.

But because all provinces of Kazakhstan are in a coronavirus lock, search and rescue teams were unable to establish a base in Dzhezkazgan or the Karaganda provincial center, said Vyacheslav Rogozhnikov, deputy head of the Russian Federal Medical Biological Agency. Instead, the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, rented by Russia, was used as the base, and the crew of the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft will go there after being taken out of the capsule, Rogozhkin said in an online interview by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

From Baikonur, American astronauts will take a 300 km (186 mi) ride to the city of Kzylorda, where they will board a NASA aircraft, he said, adding hours of tiring land travel after 205 days in space, 3,280 jobs from Earth and a journey of 86.9 million miles.

(This story has not been edited by staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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