York native Chris Cassidy’s journey home from the International Space Station ended safely late Wednesday after a Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft carrying him and two Russian cosmonauts entered the Earth’s atmosphere just after 10 p.m. and landed on a steppe in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan.

NASA, which televised the mission, reported that the three-man crew and its module parachuted safely to the ground on the open grasslands area at 10:54 p.m.

Cassidy’s adventure began at 4:24 p.m. Wednesday when he and two cosmonauts who spent the last six months with him aboard the space station closed the hatch to the Soyuz spacecraft and undocked from the space station. The men took about three hours making preparations for their return trip before the spacecraft could undock.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy after returning from his third space mission Oct. 21, 2020, landing in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 10:54 p.m. EDT with his International Space Station crewmates Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin. NASA Television

Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagnar departed for Earth around 7:32 p.m. The crew safely entered Earth’s atmosphere at 10 p.m.

A parachute-assisted landing was made in an area southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.

After landing, the three crew members were expected to be transported by Russian helicopters to the recovery staging city of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. From there, Cassidy will board a NASA plane and fly back to Houston. The Russian cosmonauts will return to their homes in Star City, Russia.

The men are wrapping up a 196-day mission that spanned 3,136 Earth orbits covering 83 million miles. Cassidy is completing his third flight mission, totaling 378 says in space or the fifth highest total among all U.S. astronauts, NASA said.

Cassidy tweeted Wednesday that he had worked on a Sudoku puzzle each day he was in space.

The 50-year-old astronaut went into quarantine in early March before traveling to Star City with his wife. He launched into space April 9 from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. When he arrived on the space station, Cassidy spent his first several days aboard working with fellow Mainer Jessica Meir, a Caribou native who was wrapping up her first six-month space mission.

Cassidy was a standout athlete at York High School, graduating in 1988. He went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993 and served four deployments as a SEAL in Afghanistan and the Mediterranean. He also earned a master’s degree in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000.

Cassidy first traveled to space aboard the shuttle Endeavour in 2009. On that mission, he became the 500th person to fly in space. During the 16-day mission, he participated in three spacewalks to help install the Japanese Kibo laboratory’s exposed facility and replace solar array batteries on the Port 6 truss of the space station, NASA said.

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