It was a grand homecoming for the three astronauts who had been maintaining the International Space Station (ISS) for the last 165 days. They were the US astronaut Michael Fossum, the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and their Japanese counterpart.
They returned in a Russian Soyuz capsule that landed safely in Kazakhstan.
Three other astronauts have taken over manning of the ISS from these three – they are Dan Burbank of NASA, and Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia. They are scheduled to return to Earth in March 2012.
Needless to say that the frequency of space flights is on the increase and the regular movement of astronauts to and from the ISS is paving the way for more important events in the future.