Soyuz's re-entry capsule back on earth

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Moscow:  The re-entry capsule of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft has landed safely in Kazakhstan's steppe on Sunday, officials said.

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, NASA's Michael Barratt and space tourist Guy Laliberte onboard the capsule landed safely in northern Kazakh steppe.

Padalka was extracted first from the capsule, following which the other space travellers were extracted from the re-entry vehicle that landed on Earth several hours after leaving the International Space Station (ISS).

Padalka, Barratt and Laliberte were members of the 19th expedition to the ISS.

Belgian Frank De Winne, 48, was appointed new commander of the ISS, making him the first European commander of the space station. He will lead a six-member crew till December 1.

Laliberte, the founder of the renowned Cirque du Soleil, an entertainment company, paid about $35 million for his 12-day stay on the station.

US plans to scrap its space shuttle programme and limit the ISS crew to six, which means Laliberte will be the last space tourist for the next few years. The Russian Soyuz spacecraft will be the only vehicle for human flights to and from the ISS.

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