THREE ASTRONAUTS HAVE safely returned to Earth after spending 157 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The Italian, American and Russian astronauts travelled home in a Soyuz capsule and landed in Kazakhstan at 0827 local time, 0227 GMT, the Telegraph reports.
Cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, NASA Flight Engineer Cady Coleman and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli touched down in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, where they are reported to be feeling well. Mission control said: “All the operations in leaving orbit and landing went according to plan”.
Next year, the United States will suspend its shuttle programme and astronauts will instead rely solely on Russian flights to the ISS.
Meanwhile, the next expedition is due to fly to the ISS on 8 June. Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and US astronaut Michael Fossum are to conduct 43 scientific experiments during their time in space, RiaNovosti reports.