The Latest: 3 space station astronauts return to Earth

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The Latest: 3 space station astronauts return to Earth
The Latest: 3 space station astronauts return to Earth

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – The Latest on return of three astronauts from International Space Station (all times local):

9:31 p.m.

Three astronauts are back on Earth after a 5 ½-month space station mission.

The two Americans and one Russian landed in their Soyuz capsule shortly after sunrise Wednesday, local time, in Kazakhstan. It was a frigid homecoming. Despite snow and temperatures below freezing, recovery teams got to where they needed to be.

NASA’s Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei (VAN-duh-HI) and Russia’s Alexander Misurkin checked out of the International Space Station just a few hours earlier. They hugged the three men remaining behind.

Acaba, Vande Hei and Misurkin flew to the orbiting lab last September. Their mission was highlighted by robot-arm renovations, schoolteacher pep talks and heavenly greetings from Pope Francis.

A replacement crew will launch to the space station in three weeks.

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3:30 p.m.

Three astronauts face a bitterly cold homecoming after nearly six months aboard the International Space Station.

The two Americans and one Russian entered their attached Soyuz capsule Tuesday for the ride back to Earth. They’re aiming for a touchdown Wednesday morning local time in Kazakhstan. Snow and freezing rain are complicating the travel of recovery crews.

Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei (VAN-duh-HI) and Alexander Misurkin flew to the orbiting lab last September. Their mission was highlighted by robot-arm renovations, schoolteacher pep talks and heavenly greetings from Pope Francis.

Acaba is the first astronaut of Puerto Rican heritage and a former teacher. He teamed up with another educator-astronaut, who’s launching in three weeks, to perform the science lessons prepared by Christa McAuliffe 32 years ago. She died aboard space shuttle Challenger.

This image provided by NASA on Feb. 25, 2018, shows from bottom to top: Russia’s Alexander Misurkin, NASA’s Mark Vande Hei, middle, and NASA’s Joe Acaba posing for a photograph at the International Space Station. The three astronauts are headed back to Earth on Tuesday, Feb. 27, following a nearly six-month mission at the International Space Station. Misurkin, Vande Hei and Acaba moved into the orbiting lab in September. They are targeting a Kazakhstan touchdown for their Russian capsule. (NASA via AP)
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