Three Astronauts Return To Earth

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (November 19, 2012)--Three astronauts touched down early Monday 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 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 because of a minimal delay in procedures.

Another three astronauts remain onboard the space station.

Three more will join them 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.

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