Astronauts aim for icy homecoming after months in space

TOPSHOT - Members of the International Space Station (ISS) expedition 53/54, US astronauts Joseph Acaba (L) ,Mark Vande Hei (R) and Russia's cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin (C) attend a sending-off ceremony in the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early on September 13, 2017. The launch of the Soyuz MS-06 with the members of the International Space Station (ISS) expedition 53/54, US astronauts Joseph Akaba and Mark Vande Hei and Russia's cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin is scheduled for early September 13 local time from the Russian-leased Kazakh Baikonur cosmodrome. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Three astronauts face a bitterly cold homecoming after nearly six months aboard the International Space Station.

The two Americans and one Russian entered their attached Soyuz capsule Tuesday for the ride back to Earth. They’re aiming for a touchdown Wednesday morning local time in Kazakhstan. Snow and freezing rain are complicating the travel of recovery crews.

Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei (VAN-duh-HI) and Alexander Misurkin flew to the orbiting lab last September. Their mission was highlighted by robot-arm renovations, schoolteacher pep talks and heavenly greetings from Pope Francis.

Acaba is the first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage and a former teacher. He teamed up with another educator-astronaut, who’s launching in three weeks, to perform the science lessons prepared by Christa McAuliffe 32 years ago. She died aboard space shuttle Challenger.