3 astronauts return to Earth from space station

Crew members of the next expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), (L-R) US astronaut Kevin Ford, Russian cosmonauts, Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin walk to a bus during a sending-off ceremony in the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on October 23, 2012. The crew is to blast off for the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz space craft. AFP PHOTO / VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO (Photo credit should read VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images) VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO

MOSCOW A Soyuz space capsule carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts has landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan, returning the three men to Earth after a 144-day mission to the International Space Station.

A commentator on NASA TV says the search and recovery helicopters are approaching the landing site, but that only two of 12 aircraft have been allowed to land because of heavy clouds and fog. The temperature is just above freezing.

NASA's Kevin Ford and Russians Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin had been scheduled to return on Friday, but the landing was postponed by a day because of bad weather.

Their Russian-made capsule touched down Saturday at around 9:10 a.m. local time (0410gmt).

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