NASA says 3 International Space Station astronauts have returned safely to Earth

A three-person crew from the International Space Station landed safely Friday in the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan, NASA said.

The U.S. space agency’s Kjell Lindgren, Russia’s Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui of Japan returned to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-17M capsule after 141 days in space. They touched down on schedule about 120 kilometres (about 75 kilometres) northeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Kononenko reported to the Russian Mission Control that the crew was feeling fine as the capsule was descending on parachute in thick clouds before landing softly in darkness in the wind-swept steppes.

Russian rescue teams in four helicopters arrived quickly at the landing site to help the crew get out of the capsule.

Because of harsh weather conditions, the trio was to be immediately flown to Dzhezkazgan instead of a usual practice of having the crew to undergo a quick medical check-up in a tent at the landing site.

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, along with crewmates Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos remain on the station. They will be joined by three new crew members next Tuesday. Kelly and Kornienko are on the first joint U.S.-Russian one-year mission.