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Russian - US Space Crew Lands in Kazakhstan


A Russian Soyuz craft has landed in Kazakhstan bringing an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts back from the International Space Station or ISS. Two of the men spent six months on the station.

The Soyuz capsule made a soft landing in the pre-dawn darkness near the target area on the plains of Kazakhstan.

Russian space officials say search crews quickly located the spacecraft as it descended by parachute, and that all went according to plan.

American astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka returned after spending the last six months on the ISS as part of the normal six-month rotation.

Cosmonaut Yuri Shargin had been on he station for the past 10 days.

The three left behind American Leroy Chiao and Russian Salizhan Sharipov, who are due to spend the next six months in space.

They will conduct at least two spacewalks and as well as experiments testing plant growth and vaccines to combat the deadly AIDS disease.

Soyuz spacecraft have served as the only link with the ISS since NASA grounded all American space shuttles after the Columbia shuttle disaster last year that killed all 7 astronauts on board.

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