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Two Ham Astronauts Return Safely to Earth


Two ham astronauts were among three members of the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 54 crew that returned to Earth on February 27 after about 6 months in space. Astronauts Mark Vande Hei, KG5GNP, and Joe Acaba, KE5DAR, landed in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz spacecraft, along with cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. Their time on station marked the beginning of the first long-term increase in crew size on the US segment, enabling NASA to double the time dedicated to science.

Research highlights included investigations into the manufacturing of fiber optic filaments in microgravity, improving the accuracy of an implantable glucose biosensor, and measuring the Sun’s energy input to Earth.

Vande Hei logged 168 days in space on his first mission and conducted four spacewalks. Acaba completed one spacewalk and has now accrued 306 days in space on three missions. Both participated in Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contacts and other educational events.

Now operating the station are Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Scott Tingle, KG5NZA, and Norishige Kanai. Astronauts Ricky Arnold, KE5DAU, and Drew Feustel and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev head to the ISS on March 21.