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Published on Jul 1, 2012
After half a year living on the International Space Station, three astronauts safely returned to Earth Sunday (July 1) aboard a Russian-built space capsule.
The Soyuz spacecraft landed on Central Asian steppes of Kazakhstan at 4:14 a.m. EDT (0414 GMT) to return NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers back to their home planet.
"Everything is good, we feel great," Kononenko radioed Russia's Mission Control Center just before landing.
The departure of Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers leaves only three residents to currently occupy the space station until three new crewmembers launch to the complex on July 14. Padalka, NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Revin will remain aboard the orbiting outpost until September.