Astronauts Arrive Home in a Brilliant Ball of Fire

Without any context, it looks like something has gone terribly, terribly wrong in the photo above taken around midnight last night. But that little ball engulfed in flames is doing just fine—and so are the three members of the International Space Station Expedition 36 that were snuggly inside and on their way home.

The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft's cargo included NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin. These men have been orbiting the Earth for the past 166 days, during which time they managed to circle the Earth 2,656 times. The Soyuz is the only means for international astronauts to reach the ISS, so though these astronauts may be done, the ship itself is going right back up on September 25 to carry the next batch of astronauts to their new home away from home. [NASA via PopSci]

Astronauts Arrive Home in a Brilliant Ball of Fire