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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 22:37 GMT 23:37 UK
Space capsule lands back on Earth
Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori (centre) and Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov (right) embrace each other on board the international space station
The men left the space station after saying their goodbyes
A Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts and a cosmonaut from the International Space Station has touched down safely on the northern steppes of Kazakhstan.

It landed 90km (50 miles) north of the town of Arkalyk, less than four hours after undocking from the ISS.

Two of the three men - Russian Salizhan Sharipov and American Leroy Chiao - were returning from a 193-day tour of duty on the orbiting platform.

Italian Roberto Vittori returns to Earth after a 10-day mission.

He had gone up to the ISS with Russian Sergei Krikalev and American John Phillips. The pair have stayed behind to become the new resident crew.

Shuttle plans

A US medical team and Russian helicopters were on call as the Soyuz spacecraft readied to begin its descent to Earth.

It landed at 0208 (2208GMT Sunday) Moscow time on Monday.

The Soyuz craft took over all trips to and from the space station following the Columbia disaster in 2003 when the space shuttle burned up on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, killing all its seven crewmembers.

US space agency (Nasa) says it expects to resume shuttle flights next month.

See footage of Soyuz docking with the ISS

Soyuz spacecraft docks with ISS
17 Apr 05 |  Science/Nature
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21 Apr 05 |  Science/Nature
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15 Apr 05 |  Science/Nature
Discovery reaches its launch pad
07 Apr 05 |  Science/Nature

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