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By Andrew Follett
One U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts safely touched down Monday after finishing a 173-day mission on the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough returned to Earth aboard a Russian-made Soyuz MS-02 capsule with cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko.
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) April 10, 2017
With Kimbrough’s return to Earth, U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson became the first woman to command the ISS on two separate occasions. Whitson will smash a NASA record on April 24th for spending 535 days in space.
Thirteen Russians have spent more time in space than Whitson. Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the galactic record of 879 days in space.
NASA has not launched an astronaut into space without the help of the Russians for the last five years, forcing the U.S. to pay Russia $71 million dollars per astronaut lifted to the ISS. Russia has repeatedly threatened to block American access to the $150 billion station in response to U.S. sanctions. America paid for 84 percent of the costs associated with building the ISS.