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Soyuz spacecraft brings 3 ISS crew members to Earth

Soyuz spacecraft brings 3 ISS crew members to Earth

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft on Thursday safely brought NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos from International Space Station (ISS) to Earth.

The crew landed just south of the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 8.54 am Kazakhstan time, NASA said.

During this latest mission, Cassidy served as commander of Expedition 63 and welcomed SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley of NASA — the first astronauts to launch to the space station on an American spacecraft from American soil since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

Cassidy and Behnken completed four spacewalks, totaling 23 hours and 37 minutes, to upgrade station batteries.

The final spacewalk was the 10th for both astronauts, making them two of only four US astronauts to complete 10 spacewalks.

Cassidy now has spent a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest among US astronauts.

When Cassidy, Ivanishin, and Vagner departed the space station, Expedition 64 officially began on station, with Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov serving as station commander and NASA's Kate Rubins and Roscosmos' Sergey Kud-Sverchkov serving as flight engineers.

In November, the Expedition 64 crew is scheduled to welcome NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 — NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Crew-1 will be the first long-duration mission to fly as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Programme and mark the return of America's capability to regularly launch astronauts from US soil.

For nearly 20 years, the International Space Station has been inhabited continuously by astronauts testing technologies, conducting research, and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth, including to the Moon and Mars.

Expedition 1 arrived on the International Space Station on November 2, 2000..