ISS Expedition 55 crew returns to Earth after 168 days in space

ISS Expedition 55 crew returns to Earth after 168 days in space

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, center, his Russian counterpart Anton Shkaplerov, left, and Scott D. Tingle of the United States simile as they moved from the International Space Station (ISS) into the Soyuz space capsule before their landing in Kazakhstan on June 3, 2018.

While it was the first mission for Tingle and Kanai, Shkaplerov has been on three flights so far and has logged 532 days in space. "We are glad the weather is sunny".

Three crew members of the International Space Station returned to Earth on Sunday after completing a five-and-a-half month mission, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

Shkaplerov was travelling back to Moscow, reportedly with a football that might be used in the World Cup later this month. There they will undergo a longer medical exam and then be flown either to Moscow or Houston.

Mr Putin highlighted Japan's important contribution to the ISS and Mr Abe expressed his joy at the pair working in such unity in space.

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According to the Russian agency TASS, that ball will be also used in the opening match of the World Cup, on June 14, in Moscow, although the information has not yet been confirmed by Federation Internationale de Football Association.

Tingle and Kanai also conducted space walks outside of the station to work on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Sergei Prokopyev of Roscosmos are set to launch to the ISS from Baikonur on Wednesday.

Three astronauts, Americans Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Russian Oleg Artemyev, remain on the ISS.

Space research has been one of the few areas of worldwide cooperation between Russian Federation and the West that has not been wrecked by the Ukraine crisis.