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3-man crew returns safely to Earth from International Space Station

• http://www.foxnews.com, Associated Press
 Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, American Thomas Marshburn, and Russian Roman Romanenko landed as planned southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan at 8:31 a.m. local time Tuesday.

Live footage on NASA TV showed the Soyuz TMA-07M capsule slowly descending by parachute onto the sun-drenched steppes under clear skies. Russian search and rescue helicopters hovered over the landing site for a quick recovery effort.

Rescue teams moved quickly to help the crew in their bulky spacesuits exit through the narrow hatch of the capsule. They were then put into reclining chairs to start adjusting to Earth's gravity after 146 days in space.

The three astronauts smiled as they chatted with space agency officials and doctors who were checking their condition.  Hadfield, who served as the space station's commander, gave a thumbs-up sign. They then made quick phone calls to family members and friends.

NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said by telephone from the landing site that the three returning astronauts were doing very well.

Hadfield, 53, an engineer and former test pilot from Milton, Ontario, was Canada's first professional astronaut to live aboard the space station and became the first Canadian in charge of a spacecraft. He relinquished command of the space station on Sunday.


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