Three astronauts return to earth

KAZAKHSTAN - A Russian Soyuz space capsule carrying three astronauts from the International Space Station has landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The landing occurred on schedule Wednesday morning with the capsule descending under a white parachute. It had undocked from the orbiting laboratory some 260 miles (418 kilometers) above the Earth about three hours earlier.

Aboard the capsule are Russian Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata of Japan. They had spent 188 days on the space station.

The astronauts are to be extracted from the capsule and given a brief medical assessment while sitting outdoors in the barren steppe.

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