Two Nasa astronauts expect a difficult return to a drastically changed world next week, after close to a year onboard the International Space Station.
Andrew Morgan told reporters the ISS crew had tried to keep abreast of news regarding the coronavirus pandemic, but it was hard to comprehend what was really going on and what to expect when his nine-month mission ends next Friday.
“It” is quite surreal for us to see this whole situation unfolding on the planet below, ”said Jessica Meir, who last year took part in the first all-female spacewalk.
“ We can tell you that the Earth still looks just as stunning as always from up here, so it’s difficult to believe all the changes that have taken place since both of us have been up here. ”
As an emergency physician in the army , Morgan said he feels a little guilty coming back midway through the medical crisis.
“It’s very hard to fathom,” Morgan said.
Meir said it would be di fficult not being able to hug family and friends after seven months off the planet. She expects to feel even more isolated on Earth than in space.
“We’re so busy with so many other amazing pursuits and we have this incredible vantage point of the Earth below, that we don ‘ t really feel as much of that isolation, “Meir said.
“ So we’ll see how it goes and how I adjust. But it will, of course, be wonderful to see some family and friends, at least virtually and from a distance for now. ”
Morgan flew to the space station last July, and Meir last September. They will return in a Soyuz capsule with Russian Oleg Skripochka, landing in Kazakhstan. Their departure will leave three astronauts, who arrived on Thursday , onboard.
The three astronauts will return to Earth exactly 50 years after the Apollo 22 crew splashed down in the Pacific ocean. An oxygen tank explosion aborted that moon-landing mission.
“Now there’s a crisis and the crisis is on Earth,” Morgan said.