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NASA: 3 International Space Station astronauts return safely to Earth

In this Dec. 9, 2015, NASA TV image, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren works to secure the Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo ship after its arrival at the International Space Station.
In this Dec. 9, 2015, NASA TV image, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren works to secure the Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo ship after its arrival at the International Space Station. (AFP/Getty Images)

REPORTING FROM MOSCOW — A three-person crew from the International Space Station landed safely Friday in the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan, NASA said.

The U.S. space agency's Kjell Lindgren, Russia's Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui of Japan returned to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-17M capsule after 141 days in space. They touched down on schedule about 75 miles northeast of Jezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

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Kononenko reported to the Russian Mission Control that the crew was feeling fine as the capsule was descending on parachute in thick clouds before landing softly in darkness in the wind-swept steppes.

Russian rescue teams in four helicopters arrived quickly at the landing site to help the crew get out of the capsule.

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Because of harsh weather conditions, the trio was to be flown immediately to Jezkazgan instead of the usual practice of having the crew undergo a quick medical checkup in a tent at the landing site.

Expedition 46 Cmdr. Scott Kelly of NASA, along with crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos remain on the station. They will be joined by three new crew members on Tuesday. Kelly and Kornienko are on the first joint U.S.-Russian one-year mission.

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