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Back with a bump: how Tim Peake will get home from the International Space Station

Tim Peake’s time on the International Space Station has come to an end. Photo: ITV News

Tim Peake’s time on the International Space Station has come to an end.

The Wiltshire astronaut is set to return to earth after months on board the International Space Station.

But just how is he getting home? Turns out coming back to earth is just as complicated as blasting off.

This video explains the Soyuz capsules undocking and landing.

Stage 1
Check the door's locked!

First the astronauts will remove the clamps inside the docking assembly and close the hatch between the International Space Station and the Soyuz capsule.

They'll also be checking for leaks.

Stage 2
Salt load!

The astronauts will “salt-load” to fill their bodies with water to counteract the fact that in space your body holds less water. If they did not fill up with water they risk arriving on Earth seriously dehydrated.

Stage 3
brace yourself!

Moscow Mission Control has radioed advice to the astronauts with advice for landing:

"The following sensations can be expected in response to g-loads during reentry:

  • Sensation of g-load pressure on the body
  • Heaviness of the body
  • Labored breathing and speech
Stage 4
suit up!

Tim and his fellow astronauts will put on medical telemetry belts and tight-fitting shorts to stop blood from the legs flowing to the head during re-entry. Afterwards they will put on their Sokol pressure suits.

Stage 5
launch

The undocking will release springs that push the two spacecraft away from each other. At 20 meters distance the Soyuz will fire its engines.

They will spend about two hours orbiting Earth before braking to reenter the planet’s atmosphere at around midnight.

Stage 6
re-entry

From here it will all happen very quickly, three modules of the spacecraft will separate with two burning up in the atmosphere.

As they descend their module will encounter temperatures of up to 1600°C.

At 10 km above sea level a parachute is deployed automatically, slowing the astronauts down from 864 km/h to a leisurely 324 km/h.

Retro-rockets fire moments before impact to bring the touchdown forces to a minimum – but it's still likened to the force of a small car crash.

Search and rescue teams will be on hand as soon as possible.

After landing:

Do not rise from your seat or leave the Descent Module too soon. Stay in your seat for several minutes and only then rise from the seat!

Limit head and eye movement.

Take it easy. We look forward to seeing you on the ground.

Have a safe landing and return to Earth!

– Moscow Mission Control ends its standard radiogram