US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have returned to Earth after spending almost a year in the space in a groundbreaking experiment foreshadowing a potential manned mission to Mars. The 340-day mission has broken the record for the longest single stay in space by a US astronaut, while Kornienko is now fifth on the list for lengthiest mission by a Russian cosmonaut.
Their Soyuz capsule parachuted onto the central Asian steppes and ended a science-rich mission at the International Space Station that began last March and was deemed a stepping stone to Mars.
We have landing Russian Mission Control confirmed after the trio touched down southeast of the settlement of Dzhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan at around 0430 GMT.
The air out here feels great. I\\\'ve no idea why you guys are so bundled up, NASA TV reported him as saying as he sat upright in a chair on the steppe in temperatures just below zero.
The pair have travelled 144 million miles through space, circled the world 5,440 times and experienced 10,880 orbital sunrises and sunsets during the longest single spaceflight by an American.Kelly posted one last batch of sunrise photos on Twitter, before quipping, I gotta go! His final tweet from orbit came several hours later: The journey isn\\\'t over. Follow me as I rediscover (hash) Earth!
A really smart person said to me one time, `Teamwork makes the dream work in space flight,\\\' and space flight is the biggest team sport there is,\\\" Kelly said on Monday. He acknowledged each of the 13 U.S., Russian, European and Japanese space fliers with whom he and Kornienko lived during the past year. \\\"It\\\'s incredibly important that we all work together to make what is seemingly impossible, possible.\\\"
Piloting the Soyuz capsule home for Kelly, 52 and Kornienko, 55, was the much fresher and decade younger cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, whose space station stint lasted for the typical six months.