3 astronauts return to Earth from space station

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Members of the next expedition to the International Space Station, Russian Cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin, left, and Pavel Vinogradov, center, and US astronaut Christopher Cassidy shake hands before their final preflight practical examination in a mock-up of a Soyuz TMA space craft at Russian Space Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. The three are the next crew scheduled to blast off to the International Space Station from Baikonur cosmodrom on a Russian made Soyuz TMA-08M space craft on March 28. AP

MOSCOW— A Soyuz space capsule carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts has landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan, returning the three men to Earth after a 144-day mission to the International Space Station.

A commentator on NASA TV says the search and recovery helicopters are approaching the landing site, but that only two of 12 aircraft have been allowed to land because of heavy clouds and fog. The temperature is just above freezing.

NASA’s Kevin Ford and Russians Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin had been scheduled to return on Friday, but the landing was postponed by a day because of bad weather.

Their Russian-made capsule touched down Saturday at around 9:10 a.m. local time (0410gmt).

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