A Russian Soyuz space capsule has landed in Kazakhstan, reports the AP, bringing three astronauts from the United States, Japan, and Russia back to Earth from a 115-day mission aboard the International Space Station. The landing took place Sunday morning near Dzhezkazgan on the treeless Central Asian steppes. Kate Rubins of NASA, Japan's Takuya Onishi and Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia were removed from the capsule and sat on the steppes still in their capsule seats while they readjusted to the forces of gravity after nearly four months in weightless conditions, then were taken to a nearby medical tent for initial examination. Rubins recently gave an appropriately nerdy interview to Entertainment Weekly, in which she described watching Star Trek Beyond aboard the ISS, telling Simon Pegg, "Your special effects guys get it right. It absolutely feels like a space station."
Meanwhile, Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhykov of Russia and NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough remain aboard the space station. They arrived on Oct. 22 after a two-day voyage. The trip back to Earth was much quicker for the three returnees on Sunday, about 3 1/2 hours from undocking until landing. The capsule landed as scheduled and was closely tracked by helicopters as it wafted through partly cloudy skies under a parachute marked in red and white concentric circles. The craft landed upright, which made the extraction of the astronauts quicker than when capsules land on their sides. (Last week, the ISS took a delivery that was two years in the making.)