Three space station astronauts are back on Earth.
An American and two Russians landed early Thursday in Kazakhstan after 5½ months aboard the International Space Station. They returned in a Russian Soyuz capsule that parachuted down through a clear sky. NASA said everything appeared to go well.
NASA astronaut Steven Swanson and Russian crewmen Oleg Artemiev and Alexander Skvortsov flew to the orbiting outpost last March. Their departure leaves three men still up there: an American, Russian and German. The Russian Space Agency will launch a fresh three-person crew on Sept. 25. That crew will include a Russian woman, a rarity in space travel. Elena Serova will become only the fourth Russian woman to fly in space and the first in nearly two decades.