A pair of NASA astronauts will be returning to a whole new world when they come down to earth next week after months in space.
Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir, who have been isolated on the International Space Station for nine and seven months respectively, said they’re now bracing for their return to a planet that has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic since they left, CNN reported.
“It’s quite surreal to see it unfolding on earth below,” Morgan told reporters. “From here, earth looks just as stunning as usual, so it’s hard to believe all of the changes that have taken place since we left.”
“We can watch news up here, and we’ve been talking to friends and families to try to paint a picture,” he continued. “But from up here, it’s hard to understand what has transpired and how life will be different when we return.”
Morgan and Meir, who are due to return home on Friday, will be returning to a world that has seen nearly 1.8 million people infected by the deadly virus, and more than 110,000 dead — including over 20,000 in the US.
They said isolation is “something we’re very good at,” but noted it’s something people on earth are experiencing in a new way due to social-distancing and self-quarantining.
“It will be difficult to not give hugs to family and friends after being up here for seven months,” Meir said. “I think I will feel more isolated on earth than here because it’s expected up here. We’re busy with amazing pursuits and tasks and don’t feel the isolation.”
“We can try to find the silver linings and positive elements,” she said. “One of those things my family and friends are talking about is connections they’ve been able to foster with loved ones. It’s bringing that innate human element out, reminding us of our priorities.”
The two astronauts are scheduled to return to earth with cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, leaving newly arrived NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy to take over.
Cassidy, who arrived at the station Thursday, has already had a taste of life in the coronavirus-racked world.
“We knew we would be in quarantine, but we didn’t know the rest of the world would join us,” he said. “Leaving that behind, my heart goes out to everyone.”
“This mission feels different,” Cassidy added.
With Post wires
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