DZHEZKAZGAN, KAZAKHSTAN: Two Russian cosmonauts and a US astronaut touched down safely in central Kazakhstan Monday, following a 173-day mission aboard the International Space Station.
“Touchdown confirmed,” said a commentator on NASA Television broadcasting the landing.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough was accompanied by Russian space agency cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko in the earthbound Soyuz MS-02 craft.
The landing took place in bright conditions at around 1120 GMT (1720 local time) close to the Kazakh steppe town of Dzhezkazgan.
Of the trio that blasted off towards the ISS together in October only Ryzhikov is completing a first mission.
Former Gulf War helicopter pilot Kimbrough spent close to 16 days on the US space shuttle Endeavour in 2008 while Borisenko was on his second ISS mission following a 164-day stint in 2011.
“Goodnight Earth from @Space_Station, headed back your way tomorrow!” Kimbrough wrote in his last tweet prior to the undocking from the ISS.