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International Space Team Home Safely

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The early evening sky of northern Kazakhstan was dotted by a descending space capsule en route to a soft landing on “saturated” ground. Landing upright, search-and-rescue helicopters followed the capsule as it touched down 50 miles north of Arkalyk.

Space officials and medical staff arrived at the site to greet American Leroy Chiao, Russian Salizhan Sharipov and Italian Roberto Vittori, with still wobbly space legs.

Vittori, a European Space Agency astronaut, spent just over a week at the International Space Station, while Sharipov and Chiao returned after about seven months. Sharipov and Chiao arrived at the station last October.

Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and American astronaut John Phillips remained behind as the sole crewmembers of the space station.

They will await the arrival of the space shuttle Discovery, scheduled for launch no earlier than May 22, the first NASA launch since Columbia disintegrated on Feb. 1, 2003.

International Space Team Home Safely
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