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ISS Astronauts Land Back on Earth After 166 Days in Space

Image: ISS Astronauts Land Back on Earth After 166 Days in Space From left: Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin, Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy.

Thursday, 12 Sep 2013 12:50 PM

By Clyde Hughes

Three astronauts, including American Chris Cassidy, landed to Earth early Wednesday after 166 days on the International Space Station.

The ISS astronauts, which included Russians Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin, emerged from the capsule in Kazakhstan after leaving Earth on March 29, according to the Associated Press.

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NASA's Karen Nyberg is currently on the space station with Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin and Italian Luca Parmitano until the next three-person team arrives on Sept. 25. The Soyuz vehicle is the only way for astronauts to reach the orbiting laboratory since the U.S. decommissioned the space shuttles in 2011.

Cassidy said he had mixed emotions about leaving the space station but was excited to return home to see his wife and three children again. 

Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin became the first crew ever to launch an "express" one-day flight to the orbiting lab, setting the bar high for future flights to the space station.

They performed several U.S.-Russian spacewalks during the flight, with Cassidy even taking part in an unplanned spacewalk to fix an ammonia leak in the station's cooling system in May, Space.com reported.

After landing, Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin were expected to undergo a bevy of medical tests after the long flight. Cassidy will participate in extra tests to serve as a baseline for his fellow NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who in 2015 is slated do a one-year stint at the space station.

The test will set standards for a potential future manned mission to Mars.

This was Cassidy's second time in space. Between the two flights, he spent a total of 181 days in space.

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