A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts returning from the International Space Station (ISS) landed safely in Kazakhstan early Tuesday morning.
American Michael Fossum, Russian Sergei Volkov and Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa landed in the snow at 8:26am local time, 56 miles north of the town of Arkalyk, the Associated Press reported.
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Volkov described the landing as “great”, as television footage showed the men emerging from the capsule, and being given blankets.
The three crew members had spent 165 days on the ISS, with their replacement crew having arrived on the Soyuz last Wednesday.
The new crew – consisting of two Russians astronauts and an American – blasted off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on Monday.
It was Russia’s first manned mission for five months, after a string of technical failures, including the loss of an unmanned supply ship, also headed for the ISS, which crashed in Siberia in August, shortly after take-off.
The new crew members are due to remain on the ISS until March, 2012.
The Soyuz rocket became the only means of reaching the ISS after the United States ended its shuttle program in July.