Two NASA Astronauts returned to Earth
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Kazakhstan sources have reported that two NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut returned to Earth yesterday, rounding off a mission of more than five months aboard the International Space Station. According to sources Alexander Misurkin of Russia's Roscosmos space agency and NASA's Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba touched down on steppe land southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan at the expected time of 0231 GMT.
Roscosmos said in a statement that "All descent and landing operations went according to plan. The crew members that have returned to Earth are feeling well". Meanwhile Misurkin, 40, who handed over command of the International Space Station to compatriot Anton Shkaplerov and took charge of the Soyuz descent module carrying the trio down to Earth, has spent 334 days in space over two flights.
Further Roscosmos will replenish its crew once a new, multi-purpose space module called Nauka docks at the ISS, but the launch of the module has been delayed several times and is now not expected to take place before 2019. The ISS laboratory, a rare example of American and Russian international cooperation, has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 km per hour since 1998.