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Russian cosmonaut, North American astronauts return to Earth

A view of Earth as seen from the Cupola on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station, June 12, 2013. Visible in the top left foreground is a Russian Soyuz crew capsule. In the lower right corner, a solar array panel can be seen. (NASA/MCT/TNS/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian cosmonaut and two astronauts from the United States and Canada has returned to Earth.

Expedition commander Oleg Kononenko of Roskosmos, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and the Canadian Space Agency’s David Saint-Jacques touched down on the steppes of southeastern Kazakhstan on June 25 after spending 204 days in space.

It was Kononenko’s fourth space mission.

Russia’s Aleksei Ovchinin and two U.S. astronauts, Nick Hague and Christina Koch, remain aboard the International Space Station.

The trio is to be joined by Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, and Aleksandr Skvortsov of Roskosmos in July.

In October 2018, a Soyuz spacecraft that Hague and Ovchinin were riding in failed two minutes into its flight, activating a rescue system that allowed their capsule to land safely.

That accident was the Russian space program’s first aborted crew launch since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch-pad explosion.