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Soyuz TMA-20 Crew Lands Safely in Kazakhstan. / May 24, 2011 /

A Russian Soyuz TMA-20 space capsule landed about 150km south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan early morning today.

The capsule delivered an international trio of astronauts back to Earth after six months on the International Space Station, parachuting through clear skies toward a safe landing on the Kazakh steppe.

Russian cosmonaut and station commander Dmitry Kondratiev and flight engineers Catherine Coleman, an American, and Italian Paolo Nespoli touched down aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 craft at 08:27 local time (02:27 GMT).

Kondratiev drank water and appeared relaxed as rescue crews wiped sweat from his brow. Coleman smiled as she descended from the space capsule and was carried to a reclining chair. Nespoli was last to emerge.

As a parting gift to NASA, Kondratiev flew the spacecraft out to about 200m from the ISS while Nespoli snapped pictures and recorded video of the orbital outpost with the US space shuttle Endeavour docked.

The images shot before the capsule’s descent to Earth will be the first of a shuttle and the station together from a remote vantage point, with a planetary view of Earth in the background.

Three new station crew members — Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, NASA astronaut Michael Fossum and Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa — are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 8.

After Endeavor departure jn June 1, and until they arrive at the ISS on June 10, the ISS-28 crew commanded by Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko, with Alexander Samokutiaev and Ron Garan continue working in the station.

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