Moscow: A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three returning astronauts from the International Space Station has touched down safely in the central steppes of Kazakhstan, but not without rattling nerves after a breakdown in communications.
NASA astronaut Ron Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev landed some 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of the city of Zhezkazgan at 10 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) after 164 days in space.
Repeated calls to the Soyuz TMA-21 capsule from Mission Control in Korolyov, outside Moscow, went unanswered for several minutes, well after the craft had de-orbited.
Communication was eventually established between the crew and an Antonov fixed-winged aircraft flying circling the landing site.
The next launch of a manned Soyuz spacecraft to the space station is scheduled for Nov. 12.