ISS crew return to Earth on Russian spacecraft

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A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Kanai and two other astronauts landed on the grasslands of Kazakhstan at 9:39 p.m. Japan time (12:39 p.m. GMT), about three and a half hours after undocking from the ISS.

Shkaplerov was out of the capsule first and was pictured munching grapes as the support crew tended to him ahead of his journey back to Moscow. "We are glad the weather is sunny", said Shkaplerov in footage broadcast from the landing site.

The trio will undergo medical tests in the Kazakh city of Karaganda before flying on to Moscow or Houston.

The ball, called Telstar 18, was taken to the ISS in March by the Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. The Russian news agency Tass reported that the ball will be used in the opening game of the World Cup later this month.

Tingle and Kanai ventured outside the station on separate spacewalks to perform work on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. He has helped to raised awareness of the ISS in Japan by tweeting in the Japanese language during his time in space. He later said he had made a measurement mistake and had only grown 2 cm.

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While on the space station the crew completed hundreds of experiments, including materials testing, studying the effect of microgravity on bone marrow and researching plant growth in space.

Mr Shkaplerov, the previous commander of the space station, handed controls over to NASA's Drew Feustel on Friday.

The station is crewed by NASA astronauts as well as Russian Cosmonauts and a mixture of Japanese, Canadian and European astronauts as well.

Space research has been one of the few areas of global cooperation between Russian Federation and the West that has not been wrecked by the Ukraine crisis.

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