KOROLYOV (Moscow Region), June 3. /TASS/. The crew of the long-term Expedition 54/55 to the international Space Station (ISS) has transferred to the manned Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft and closed the hatches for its return to Earth, Russia’s Flight Control Center reported on Sunday.
The crewmembers comprising Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai "parted with their colleagues and transferred to the manned Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft, closing the transfer hatches on the ISS," the Flight Control Center said.
Aboard the Soyuz spacecraft, the Expedition’s crewmembers returning to Earth will put on their flight suits and check the workability of the spacecraft’s systems and the hatches’ air tightens.
The command to undock from the space station will be given at 12:16 Moscow time. After the spacecraft separates from the orbiter, the crewmembers will be in an autonomous flight for several hours. The spacecraft is expected to enter the dense layers of the atmosphere at 3:17 p.m. Moscow time and the descent capsule is scheduled to land in the steppes of Kazakhstan near the city of Zhezkazgan at 3:41 p.m.
Russian cosmonaut Shkaplerov will deliver to Earth a ball, which is planned to be used during the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow. The ball was brought to the ISS by the crew of the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft in March.
Russian cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Oleg Artemyev tested the official ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, called Telstar 18, during an improvised football match aboard the International Space Station on May 31.
The crew comprising Andrew Feustel (the crew commander, USA), Oleg Artemyev (Russia) and Richard Arnold (USA) will continue working aboard the ISS. On June 6, a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is scheduled to blast off from the Baikonur spaceport to deliver Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev, US astronaut Serene Aunon and German astronaut Alexander Gerst to the world’s sole orbiter.