Expedition 40 Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), left, Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, center, and Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA, sit in chairs outside the Soyuz TMA-12M ca...
Expedition 40 Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), left, Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, center, and Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA, sit in chairs outside the Soyuz TMA-12M ca...

Two Russians and an American are back on Earth after nearly six months aboard the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying Oleg Artemiev, Alexander Skvortsov and Steven Swanson parachuted safely onto the steppe of Kazakhstan early Thursday morning, several hours after ending a nearly six-month mission aboard the ISS. They have been replaced by a new three-person crew, including Russian cosmonaut Max Suraev, American Reid Wiseman and Germany's Alexander Gerst, a member of the European Space Agency.

Another three-person crew is scheduled to arrive at the orbital outpost later this month. The crew will include Elena Serova, who will be only the fourth Russian woman to fly in space and the first since 1997.