3 space station astronauts safely return to Earth

DZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan -- 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.

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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.





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