Russia's Soyuz capsule lands in Kazakhstan after ISS visit

The Soyuz passengers appeared to be in good health as they emerged

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A Russian Soyuz spacecraft has landed safely in Kazakhstan, bringing three crew members back from the International Space Station (ISS).

US astronaut Mike Fossum, Japan's Satoshi Furukawa and Russia's Sergei Volkov spent 165 days on the ISS.

Their replacements - two Russians and an American - arrived at the ISS on the Soyuz on Wednesday.

The Soyuz is now the only means of reaching the ISS after the US ended its shuttle programme earlier this year.

The capsule touched down safely on the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan at 08:27 local time (02:27 GMT), said officials.

Television footage showed the smiling three-man crew emerging and being wrapped in blankets.

"The landing was great. Everything's good," said Mr Volkov.

US space agency Nasa said the capsule had landed on its side, which was "not unusual in windy conditions".

The Soyuz rocket carrying the spacecraft blasted off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on Monday morning.

It was the first manned voyage since a cargo rocket crashed shortly after launch in August, prompting the suspension of all manned space travel for almost three months.

That crash meant the returning astronauts had only one six days to introduce the new crew members to the ISS - half the usual handover time.

Nasa astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin are due to remain at the space station until March.

They will be joined in December by American Don Pettit, Russian Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers, from the Netherlands, bringing the ISS back up to its full complement of six.

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