NASA's most experienced astronaut lands back on Earth

He helped install a space taxi dock during his latest ISS stint.

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Mariella Moon
September 7, 2016 5:32 AM
In this article: ISS, jeffwilliams, nasa, science, space
REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool
REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams has landed back on the planet after a record-breaking stint aboard the International Space Station. He just spent 172 days on the orbiting lab, bringing his total time spent in space to 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes. That makes Williams the most experienced NASA astronaut, snatching the title of "American who has spent the most time off the planet" from his colleague Scott Kelly. If you'll recall, Kelly came home from a one-year ISS mission in March, which brought his total to 520 days, 10 hours and 33 minutes.

Expedition 48's Commander Williams installed an ISS space taxi dock with fellow astronaut Kate Rubins in mid-August. The dock would give Boeing and SpaceX a way to ferry astronauts to the station, finally freeing NASA from hitching a ride on Russian rockets. Since those taxis won't be ready until 2017 or 2018, though, Williams had to come home aboard a Soyuz with Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. Besides breaking records and doing spacewalks, he also captured stunning photos of our planet from above during his stay -- check them out if you need one more reason to feel envious as a land-locked space lover.

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NASA's most experienced astronaut lands back on Earth