Wednesday, April 1, 2015
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Astronauts who carried Sochi Olympic torch into space have returned back to Earth safely. Two were Russians and one American. They landed in Kazakhstan on Tuesday at 9:24 a.m. (local time), ending 166-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The NASA TV announcer said the three astronauts have been back on Earth safely despite bad weather and they are in good health.
The three astronauts inside the capsule were former ISS commander Oleg Kotov, flight engineer Michael Hopkins and another flight engineer Sergei Ryazansky. On September 25 last year they launched together into the space.
Apart from carrying the Olympic torch for 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the trio was also on the mission for 35 science experiments. On November 9 they carried the torch outside the ISS during a spacewalk.
The three left behind a small crew. They will be arriving later this month and is headed by Koichi Wakata of Japan.
Wakat is the first Japanese national to command ISS.
The landing of the trio in south-east town of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan was delayed several times due to bad weather.
Zhezkazgan is a small town about 150 km away from the remote landing site on the windswept flatlands.
Before undocking from the ISS, the landing site was of low visibility due to fog, but Russian officials decided to still go ahead after reviewing the weather forecasts.