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Soyuz capsule gets back from space

A Soyuz capsule carrying two Russians and an American has touched down on Earth after undocking from the International Space Station following 166 days in space.

Nasa's Chris Cassidy and Russians Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin landed safely at 8.58am local time in Kazakhstan.

The capsule undocked from the space station on Tuesday for a flight to Earth that took just over three hours before a punctual landing. The three men had blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 29.

Live Nasa footage showed the three men emerging from the capsule on an unusually sunny September day on the Kazakh steppe. Each of the men was carried to reclining chairs, where they spent several minutes to acclimatise to Earth's gravity.

A Nasa TV commentator said Misurkin and Cassidy will be taken to a medical centre to undergo various tests that could provide information for future flights.

Vinogradov, at 60 the oldest human to land in a Soyuz vehicle, is not taking part in the experiments.

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

The live coverage first showed the shuttle parachuting to a safe landing, then helicopters were flown to the landing site, where medical and flight crews helped the three smiling men disembark.

Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, Karen Nyberg of Nasa and Italian Luca Parmitano are still tending the International Space Station until the arrival of a three-person crew scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan on September 25.

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