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Three astronauts are returning home after waiting out most of the pandemic in space

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This evening, three astronauts who have been living on board the International Space Station for the last six months will return back to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule, landing in the middle of the Kazakhstan desert. The trio have lived in space for nearly the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now returning as cases are rising again across the world.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin launched to the ISS on the Soyuz back in early April, nearly a month after the World Health Organization had declared that the COVID-19 outbreak had become a pandemic. Thanks to the outbreak, the crew underwent a stricter quarantine than usual before they took off. Cassidy said he remained mostly isolated when he first arrived in Russia’s Star City ahead of the launch. “Had I been in normal quarantine, I probably could have gone out to some restaurants and left the immediate parameters of the Star City area and just been smart about where we went,” Cassidy said during press interviews on March 19th. “But not this time.”

The crew then traveled to their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and went through the typical two-week quarantine that all astronauts undergo before launching.

Since arriving at the space station on April 9th, the trio have mostly lived alone as the pandemic ebbed and flowed on the Earth below. They did welcome some visitors over the summer, when NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley flew to the ISS aboard SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon capsule at the end of May. Their arrival marked the first time that people had flown to the ISS on board a privately made vehicle.

Behnken and Hurley only stayed for two months, returning to Earth on August 2nd. “It was lonely conversations I had with myself at dinner prior to their arrival,” Cassidy said the day before they left. “And with these last two months, it’s been fantastic to have buddies at the chow table to reflect on the day, think about tomorrow, and talk about world events.”

Cassidy, Vagner, and Ivanishin are leaving just as another crew of three are taking over control of the ISS. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov arrived at the ISS on October 13th. Ryzhikov took over command of the station yesterday, and the new trio will stay on the ISS until April. They’ll eventually be joined by four astronauts, all slated to fly on the second crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. That flight is tentatively planned for mid-November, though NASA and SpaceX have not confirmed a date yet. NASA is currently reviewing an engine issue that cropped up on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which carries the Crew Dragon to orbit.

After mostly avoiding the pandemic, Cassidy and his crewmates will now be returning to a world that is still focused on social distancing, wearing masks, and stopping the spread of COVID-19. In a tweet, Cassidy showed pictures of himself wearing a mask, claiming he was practicing for his “new reality.”

Their departure gets underway today at around 4:10PM ET, when the crew will climb inside their Soyuz and close the capsule’s hatch. The trio will then undock from the station at around 7:32PM ET and the Soyuz will slowly distance from the station for the next two and a half hours. The capsule’s engines will fire at around 10PM ET, taking the Soyuz out of orbit and putting it on course for Earth. The Soyuz should land around 10:55PM ET, according to NASA.

NASA plans to provide coverage of every major event tonight on its dedicated channel, so check back throughout the night to watch Cassidy and his crewmates make their way home.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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