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NASA astronaut Kate Rubins returns safely to Earth after six months in space

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, 42, safely returned to Earth on Saturday after living aboard the International Space Station for six months, according to NASA. Rubins, along with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov, arrived southeast of the town Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, in a parachute landing at 10:55 a.m. local time. 

The crew served as Expedition 63-64 and began their mission on October 14 last year. 

Expedition 64 Soyuz Landing
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is helped out of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft just minutes after she and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. NASA/Bill Ingalls

Rubins became the first person to ever sequence DNA in outer space on her first spaceflight, Expedition 48/49 in 2016. During her latest 185-day mission, Rubins conducted "hundreds of hours" of International Space Station research, including work on the Cardinal Heart experiment which studies the effects of gravity and cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue levels and could further knowledge of heart problems on Earth, NASA reported. Her research also included studying DNA sequencing and microbiology studies.

"Rubins collected hundreds of microbial samples at different locations within the space station for the 3DMM study to construct a 3D map of bacteria and bacterial products throughout the station," NASA reported. "By advancing understanding of the orbiting laboratory's microbiome, this work helps identify potential risks and supports developing countermeasures to mitigate those risks."

The International Space Station is a laboratory that orbits around Earth. The first piece of the station was launched in November 1998. 

Rubins will now return to her home in Houston, Texas. She is scheduled to speak about her mission in a news conference on Wednesday.

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