A Soyuz space capsule carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts landed this morning on the foggy steppes of Kazakhstan, safely returning the three men to Earth after a 144-day mission to the International Space Station. NASA's Kevin Ford and Russians Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin were smiling as they were helped out of the capsule and into reclining chairs to begin their acclimatization to Earth's gravity after nearly five months in space.
The three men blasted off on Oct. 23 from the Baikonur cosmodrome, which Russia leases from Kazakhstan. Three other astronauts—from Russia, the US, and Canada— remain at the space station. The next three-man crew—two Russians and an American—is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome on March 29.