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After 195 Days In Space, 3 Russian Astronauts Return To Earth

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Following a six-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS), three Russian cosmonauts arrived on the Kazakhstani steppe on Thursday, according to the Russian space agency Roscosmos. At 1057 GM, Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev, and Sergey Korsakov touched down 148 km (91 miles) southeast of the town of Zhezkazgan. As the cosmonauts reacclimated to gravity, Roscosmos broadcast footage of them being assisted from the Soyuz descent module.

Five spacewalks and numerous experiments were carried out by the crew during their 195 days in space, according to Roscosmos. Midway through March, weeks after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine to start what it referred to as a “military operation,” the three-person crew launched off to the International Space Station to begin their mission. To show support for Moscow’s troops in eastern Ukraine, Roscosmos published a picture in July of the trio on board the International Space Station holding the flags of the Kremlin-backed breakaway regions of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Four Moscow-controlled regions of Ukraine, including Lugansk and Donetsk, have called on President Vladimir Putin to formally annex the territories after hastily held elections that the West claims were a sham. This coincides with their return to Earth.

Western governments have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow in response to its military campaign in Ukraine, including restrictions on the aerospace sector. The last remaining area of cooperation between Moscow and Washington is in space, despite simmering tensions.

Last week, a Roscosmos-operated spacecraft carried astronauts from NASA, Russia, and the European Space Agency to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Anna Kikina, the sole female cosmonaut currently on duty for Russia, is anticipated to launch to the orbital station in early October on a SpaceX Crew Dragon. The US Orbital Segment and the Russian Orbital Segment are the two parts of the International Space Station (ISS), a joint project of the US, Canada, Japan, the European Space Agency, and Russia.

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