Picture-perfect homecoming for space crew

Image: Soyuz descent
A Russian Soyuz craft descends through the clouds toward its landing in Kazakhstan, bringing a U.S.-Russian-British crew back down to Earth. (Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA)

Three spacefliers from the International Space Station made a photogenic return to Earth today, touching down in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The landing marked the end of a 186-day tour of duty for NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, Britain’s Tim Peake and Russia’s Yuri Malenchenko. The homeward journey began when the trio’s Russian Soyuz capsule undocked from the station at 10:52 p.m. PT Friday, leading up to the parachute-assisted descent through partly cloudy skies a little more than three hours later.

NASA photographer Bill Ingalls and the European Space Agency’s Stephane Corvaja captured some classic scenes of the homecoming from a Russian recovery helicopter, and later from the ground.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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