Waterbury astronaut Rick Mastracchio has returned from a six month journey aboard the International Space Station. During 188 days in space, the UConn graduate orbited Earth more than 3,000 times, traveling nearly 79.8 million miles.
He returned aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule with two other astronauts, Koichi Wakata and Mikhail Tyurin. The return journey took less than 3.5 hours and ended with a safe touchdown in a desert in Kazahkstan.
Mastracchio arrived at the ISS on Nov. 7 carrying the torch used to light the Olympic flame in Sochi Russia for the 2014 Winter Games. He took part in three spacewalks and studied the health effects of long duration space travel.
Mastracchio also carried a dog tag given to him by students from Chase Elementary School in Waterbury, communicating with the students from the ISS, answering their questions, and posting pictures.
It was his fourth space station mission.