ISS astronauts returns to Earth safely

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JEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan-Astronaut Norishige Kanai displayed down-to-earth taste on his return from a almost half-year mission at the International Space Station, declaring a craving for simple steamed rice and miso soup.

Footage from the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed the Soyuz descent module carrying the three touch down as recovery helicopters circled over the landing site.

With the Expedition 55 crew back, the Expedition 56 crew will operate the station and prepare for the arrival of three new crew members on June 8.

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"We're feeling a little exhausted, but at the same time, we are proud to have accomplished this and are glad to be back on Earth", he said.

Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and flight engineers Scott Tingle of Nasa and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are heading back to Earth after completing a mission spanning 168 days, with 2,688 orbits and a journey of 71.2 million miles.

Tingle and Kanai ventured outside the station on separate spacewalks to perform work on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm, and also participated in educational events as part of NASA's Year of Education on Station, said the statement.

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Kanai, a 41-year-old former Maritime Self-Defense Force doctor, had drawn global attention for claiming on Twitter to have grown 9 centimeters taller after three weeks at the space station due to the absence of gravity. Then he corrected himself and said he had only grown two centimeters.

The station is crewed by NASA astronauts as well as Russian Cosmonauts and a mixture of Japanese, Canadian and European astronauts as well.

The three had been on the orbital laboratory since mid-December, with Shkaplerov, 46, serving as mission commander from February until he turned over command to American Drew Feustel on Saturday.

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