Three Astronauts Return To Earth

MOSCOW (March 16, 2013)--An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts safely returned to earth Saturday from the International Space Station.

The Soyuz space capsule carrying the three men landed Saturday morning on the steppes of Kazakhstan after 144 days aboard the orbiting lab.

The men were scheduled to return on Friday, but the landing was postponed by a day because of bad weather.

Live footage on NASA TV showed all three men smiling as they were helped out of the capsule and into reclining chairs to begin their acclimatization to Earth's gravity.

A NASA TV commentator said only two of 12 search and rescue helicopters were allowed to land because of heavy clouds and fog.

Space officials said the crew would be flown back to the staging site in Kazakhstan.

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