3 space station astronauts safely return to Earth

U.S. astronaut Terry Virts is helped out of the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft just minutes after he and two other astronauts landed in Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Thursday, June 11, 2015. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

A three-person crew from the International Space Station has landed safely in Kazakhstan after a longer than expected orbital stint.


NASA's Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency and Russia's Anton Shkaplerov returned to Earth after 199 days on the station, nearly a month more than planned.


Their Soyuz capsule landed on schedule Thursday about 145 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Dzhezkazgan.

The mission's extension was caused by the failed launch of a Russian cargo ship in April.

VIDEO: Astronaut recites 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' while aboard ISS


The Soyuz rocket that failed in April is used to launch spacecraft carrying crews, so Russian space officials delayed the crew's return and further launches pending an investigation.


A Soyuz rocket successfully launched a satellite last week, and a new crew is set to head to the station in July.

Click here for full coverage on the International Space Station.
Related Topics:
scienceinternational space stationspaceu.s. & worldnasa
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