Safe return for Russian-US space crew

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Safe return for Russian-US space crew

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Two Russian cosmonauts and a US astronaut have landed safely in Kazakhstan after a six-month mission with the International Space Station.

Their return to earth was delayed by a day after a simple mechanical problem with the docking port. It was the first voyage in space for the two Russians, Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Korniyenko.

NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson seemed slightly fragile and was carried to a wheelchair, but is ok.

Engineers were left puzzled after latches holding the Soyuz capsule to the orbital station failed to open.

NASA said the crew members rigged up a solution, attaching cables to bypass a failed hatch sensor.

The capsule separated smoothly from the docking port and landed on the Kazakhstan plain on time.

From next year the Russian Soyuz craft will ferry all crews after NASA retires its shuttle fleet.

Earlier this year the Russians stopped visits by millionaire space tourists to free capacity on Soyuz flights, as the station expanded to take a permanent crew of six.