Two Russian cosmonauts and a US astronaut have made a parachute pinpoint landing in Kazakhstan on board a Soyuz capsule after a four-month stint on the International Space Station. Still on board ISS is a crew of three.
Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka had radioed "everyone feels great" as the Russian Soyuz capsule entered the Earth's atmosphere. Television pictures later showed the craft carrying Padalka, his Russian colleague Sergei Revin and the US astronaut Joseph Acaba landing under a giant parachute in the open Kazakh steppe.
In August, Padalka had conducted a six-hour space walk to relocate a crane on the International Space Station's outer hull and launch a small science satellite.
Their stay had ended up shorter than the usual six months because the initial launch of the Soyuz had been delayed by technical problems.
The three crew members still orbiting on ISS 350 kilometers above the Earth are a Russian cosmonaut, a female US astronaut and a Japanese colleague. They are to be joined by a fresh trio next month.
Retirement for last shuttle
Since the United States retired its space shuttles from service last year, ISS project has depended on Soyuz flights.
From Florida on Tuesday, the fifth and last US space shuttle, the Endeavour, is to begin an airlift hitched to a 747 carrier aircraft to its final home in Los Angeles.
ipj/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)