MOSCOW – A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts returning from the International Space Station touched down safely in the snow-covered steppes of Kazakhstan early this morning.
NASA astronaut Michael Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan’s JAXA space agency landed at the break of dawn some 56 miles north of the town of Arkalyk after spending 165 days in space.
The landing was close to its target point.
NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said in the NASA television broadcast that the recovery operation was swift despite the freezing weather and strong wind.
Video from the site showed the Soyuz capsule, blackened by the intense heat of re-entry, lying on its side as the astronauts were extracted.
The three men looked well and smiling, although Furukawa looked visibly exhausted. They were seated in chairs and wrapped in warm blankets to help them get adjusted to gravity after spending more than four months in space.
Valery Lyndin, spokesman for the Russian Mission Control Center, said all three astronauts are in good health.