Astronauts touch down in chilly Kazakhstan steppe

November 18, 2012

(AP) Three astronauts have touched down in the dark, chilly expanses of central Kazakhstan onboard a Soyuz capsule after a 125-day stay at the International Space Station.

NASA's Sunita Williams, Russian astronaut Yury Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide of Japan's JAXA space agency landed at 07:56 a.m. Monday local time (0156 GMT) northeast of the town of Arkalyk.

Helicopters rushed search-and-recovery crew to assist the crew, whose capsule parachuted down some 35 kilometers from the planned touchdown site due to a minimal delay in procedures.

Another three astronauts remain onboard the space station and are to be joined by an incoming trio late next month.

The Soyuz remains the only means for international astronauts to reach the orbiting laboratory since the decommissioning of the U.S. shuttle fleet in 2011.

Associated Press