Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack “2Fish” Fischer returned from International Space Station on Soyuz, 50S mission, landed in Kazakistan, on September the 2nd
In the wake of hurricane Harvey afflicting Texas, the NASA’s G5 plane, used for the return of NASA crew members form the Kazakistan to Houston, was not able to take off from Houston in time to transport back them.
Therefore the NASA crew members retrieval was performed by ESA, following the already implemented ‘Direct Return’ scenario for return of European astronauts to the training center in Cologne.
Peggy and “2Fish” were transferred to Cologne with an ESA plane, and there, after basic medical checks and the start of science activities, boarded on the NASA aircraft for departure to Houston.
ESA took care also of the return of the NASA ‘Early Retrieval Items’; very critical items with lifetime requirement for process after return from the International Space Station to avoid loss of science.
ALTEC Integrated Logistics Team, that managed all the previews ESA Direct Return missions, supported the return of NASA 50S ERI, interfacing with NASA to define and implement the return, and with customs and airport security entity, issuing all the needed documents.
Rosa Sapone, Integrated Logistics Manager at ALTEC, supported the operations in Cologne, performed ERI verification and ‘door to door’ transfer of goods from one plane to the other. In addition to the nominal plan, a contingency case was already set-up, just in case the NASA plane would not return in Houston forthwith, planning the download of cargo from the plane and temporary storage in Cologne,.
ESA’s Director General Jan Woerner was in Cologne to following the activities. He congratulated with the ESA team for the great job and highlighted the importance of Space Agencies partnerships to fulfill the Human Spaceflight achievements.