NASA Astronaut Returns to Earth After Setting Record For Longest Time Spent in Space
Jeff Williams has officially spent more time in space than any other American astronaut.
The NASA astronaut safely touched down in Kazakhstan along with two Russian cosmonauts after nearly six months on the International Space Station.
Upon his arrival on the Central Asian steppe Tuesday, the 58-year-old had logged a career-long total of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes high above Earth.
The record surpasses American astronaut Scott Kelly's record of 520 days, which he set earlier this year after a stint on the ISS.
In the hours prior to his triumphant return to Earth, Williams tweeted his goodbyes to the rarefied vantage point 250 miles high.
"I will certainly miss this view! Vast gratitude toward my crewmates, ground teams, supporting friends, and family," the astronaut wrote.
After reentering Earth's atmosphere at a velocity of some 17,000 mph, a parachute opened about seven miles up and the heat-shielded crew cabin from the Soyuz TMA-20M Russian spacecraft floated safely down.
I will certainly miss this view! Vast gratitude toward my crewmates, ground teams, supporting friends, and family. pic.twitter.com/op9vFyWSFT— Jeff Williams (@Astro_Jeff) September 6, 2016
The capsule tipped over on its side after landing, but Russian recovery crews on the scene quickly tilted it upright and helped the astronauts out.
Williams, Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin and flight engineer Oleg Skripochka were carried out and given recliners to sit in while flight surgeons did medical evaluations.
Last month, Williams told CBS News it's "the simple things" he's missed during his months in orbit.
"Good food, anything my wife wants to cook, I look forward to that, those kinds of things, friends," she said. "I look forward to quiet, just relaxing someplace, enjoying the views, enjoying the smells of Earth, all those things that we normally take for granted."