3 astronauts return from International Space Station

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-07M space ship transporting astronauts to the International Space Station blasts off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (File/AP)
Updated 20 December 2018
0

3 astronauts return from International Space Station

  • The trio has spent 197 days in space
  • The rescue crews will help the crew in their balky space suits leave the capsule and conduct initial medical examination

MOSCOW: Three astronauts returned to Earth Thursday after more than six months aboard the International Space Station.
A Russian Soyuz capsule with NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergey Prokopyev and German astronaut Alexander Gerst, of the European Space Agency, landed on the snow-covered steppes in Kazakhstan, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) southeast of the city of Dzhezkazgan. They touched down a minute ahead of schedule at 11:02 a.m. local time Thursday (0502 GMT; 12:02 a.m. EST).
The crew radioed that they were feeling fine. Russian rescue teams in helicopters and all-terrain vehicles rushed to the landing site to extract the astronauts from the capsule charred by a fiery ride through atmosphere.
The trio has spent 197 days in space. It was the first mission for Aunon-Chancellor and Prokopyev, while Gerst flew his second to a total of 362 days in orbit, setting the ESA’s flight duration record.
The rescue crews will help the crew in their balky space suits leave the capsule and conduct initial medical examination. The astronauts will then be flown to the Star City space training center outside Moscow for more thorough check-ups.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, who have arrived at the station earlier this month, are set to remain in orbit until June.


Drunk on smoke: Notre Dame’s bees survive cathedral blaze

Updated 20 April 2019
0

Drunk on smoke: Notre Dame’s bees survive cathedral blaze

PARIS: Hunkered down in their hives and drunk on smoke, Notre Dame’s smallest official residents — some 180,000 bees — somehow managed to survive the inferno that consumed the cathedral’s ancient wooden roof.
Confounding officials who thought they had perished, the bees clung to life, protecting their queen.
“It’s a big day. I am so relieved. I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn,” Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Geant told The Associated Press on Friday.
“Instead of killing them, the CO2 (from smoke) makes them drunk, puts them to sleep,” he explained.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Beeopic (@beeopic) on


Geant has overseen the bees since 2013, when three hives were installed on the roof of the stone sacristy that joins the south end of the monument. The move was part of a Paris-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers. Hives were also introduced above Paris’ gilded Opera.
The cathedral’s hives were lower than Notre Dame’s main roof and the 19th-century spire that burned and collapsed during Monday evening’s fire.
Since bees don’t have lungs, they can’t die from smoke inhalation — but they can die from excessive heat. European bees, unlike some bee species elsewhere, don’t abandon their hives when facing danger.
“When bees sense fire, they gorge themselves on honey and stay to protect their queen, who doesn’t move,” Geant said. “I saw how big the flames were, so I immediately thought it was going to kill the bees. Even though they were 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) lower than the top roof, the wax in the hives melts at 63 degrees Celsius (145.4 Fahrenheit).”

Notre Dame Cathedral’s three beehives — home to more than 180,000 bees  — survived the destructive fire. (Instagram/Beeopic)

If the wax that protects their hive melts, the bees simply die inside, Geant explained.
Smoke, on the other hand, is innocuous. Beekeepers regularly smoke out the hives to sedate the colony whenever they need access inside. The hives produce around 75 kilograms (165 pounds) of honey annually, which is sold to Notre Dame employees.
Notre Dame officials saw the bees on top of the sacristy Friday, buzzing in and out of their hives.
“I wouldn’t call it a miracle, but I’m very, very happy,” Geant added.