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Space Station Crew Back On Earth After 166 Days

Update Date: Mar 11, 2014 12:17 PM EDT
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Three astronauts have landed safely and on time in Kazakhstan despite bad weather from the International Space Station (ISS), The Register reported. The team consisted of two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut. 

They touched down in the wee hours of the morning on the snowy steppes of central Kazakhstan on schedule. The country was threatened that fog and low visibility might delay the Soyuz capsule landing.  

Severe weather did not permit the returning spacemen to get their usual medical tests in a tent at the landing site. Instead they were greeted with quick check-up before being flown out of the single-digit Fahrenheit temperatures by helicopters to the local town of Karanganda. 

Russians Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins in a spacewalk watched around the world carried into space the torch that was used to light the Olympic Flame for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. 

Kotov is one of the most experienced cosmonauts from Russia who has notched up a total of 526 days in space which includes previous expeditions in 2007 and 2009-2010. 

"You see the sparks flying, it's pretty neat. It's pretty exciting, incredible," Hopkins, sat in a chair to deal with the effects of the return to Earth after months of weightlessness, said in comments heard on NASA TV, according to Times Live.

"The one thing that hurts are my knees," he added.

In a statement previous week, NASA chief Charles Bolden said US space agency's relationship with Russia was quite normal and the soaring tension over the crisis in Ukraine had nothing to do with it.

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