Happy landings: 3 space station crew members back on Earth




A record-setting American and two Russians landed safely back on Earth Wednesday after a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

NASA's Jeff Williams returned as the U.S. record holder for time in orbit, logging 534 days in space over four missions. Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka logged 72.8 million miles in space, circling the globe 2752 times before landing on the south central steppes of Kazakhstan just 23 minutes after sunrise Wednesday, 7:13 a.m. local time (1:13 a.m. GMT).

The trio undocked from the space station nearly three and a half hours before touchdown in hazy sunshine with a comfortable welcome home temperature around 66 degrees (19 degrees Celsius) about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The three conducted experiments aboard the space station. Williams set the U.S. record last month for most time spent in space. He beat the previous record set by Scott Kelly during his year in orbit.

The world record is held by Russian Gennady Padalka at 879 days in space. Thirteen Russians have more time in space than Williams.

"Everything went very smoothly, very normally," NASA spokesman Rob Navias said.
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