Japanese ISS astronaut Norishige Kanai lands in Kazakhstan after 5½-month mission

The Soyuz MS-07/53S crew: Norishige Kanai commander Anton Shkaplerov and NASA flight engineer Scott Tingle.               NASA

The Russian Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft with three members of the International Space Station (ISS) crew successfully landed in Kazakhstan's steppe on Sunday, the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said.

Aboard were Russian Anton Shkaplerov, American Scott Tingle and Japan's Norishige Kanai, ending a 168-day mission.

Their Soyuz spacecraft will undock from the ISS around 10.16am and travel away from the space station for a couple of hours, before igniting its engines to take it out of Earth's orbit.

The crew completed hundreds of experiments, including materials testing, a study of the effect of microgravity on the bone marrow and research into plant growth in space.

Scott Tingle, who was on his first flight, experienced a spacewalk with the mission to replace the hand of one of the station's robotic arms. They also participated in dozens of educational events as part of NASA's Year of Education on Station.

According to NASA, the US space agency, astronauts can gain up to 3% in height while in space but regain their normal height when they return to Earth.

Footage from the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed recovery helicopters circling as the capsule touched down at 18:39 local time (12:39 GMT) on Sunday, sending up a cloud of dust.

With the Expedition 55 crew back, the Expedition 56 crew will operate the station and prepare for the arrival of three new crew members on June 8.

"An official Telstar 18 ball was brought to the space station for this objective and it's planned to be returned to Earth with the crew of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft on June 3", Roscosmos stated earlier.

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