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Three ISS crew members gear up for Monday homecoming

IANS | Washington |

Three crew members aboard the International Space Station are packing up their gear for a homecoming on Monday, ending their 173-day mission in space, NASA said.

Expedition 50 crew members Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will take a ride back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. 

The are scheduled to land Monday at 7:21 a.m. EDT (4.51 p.m. India time) in Kazakhstan. 

"Commander Shane Kimbrough, who is returning to Earth early Monday, took it easy Friday aboard the International Space Station. He and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet mainly performed light duty tasks and continued their daily exercise to stay healthy in space," NASA scientists wrote in a blog post on Friday.

"Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, who are returning home Monday with Kimbrough, continued packing the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft that will parachute the trio to a landing in Kazakhstan after a 173 days in space," the blog post said.

Ryzhikov, who is on his first mission, will command the Soyuz during its undocking and reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Borisenko and Kimbrough are both wrapping up their second visit to space.

Whitson will become station commander for the second time in her career Sunday less than 24 hours before her crewmates undock from the Poisk module. 

She stays behind with fellow Expedition 50-51 crew members Thomas Pesquet and Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy