Astronauts return from International Space Station after 5.5-month mission

The Soyuz capsule during a previous landing in Kazakhstan

The Soyuz capsule during a previous landing in Kazakhstan

Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai feel well after spending 168 days in orbit, it said in a press release.

The three men worked on a variety of scientific experiments during their time on the ISS.

Kanai, a 41-year-old former Maritime Self-Defense Force doctor, had drawn worldwide attention for claiming on Twitter to have grown 9 centimeters taller after three weeks at the space station due to the absence of gravity.

The men had been studying the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and researching plant growth in space.

Tingle and Kanai ventured outside the station on separate spacewalks to perform work on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. They also participated in dozens of educational events as part of NASA's Year of Education on Station.

Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency made life on the space station more accessible to Japanese-speakers by tweeting in the language most days.

Shkaplerov conducted a record-setting spacewalk in February with fellow cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin to replace an electronics box for a communications antenna on the Zvezda service module.

The crew comprising Andrew Feustel (the crew commander, USA), Oleg Artemyev (Russia) and Richard Arnold (USA) now continue their work aboard the International Space Station.

JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa said: "I am very pleased that Astronaut Kanai, who completed a long stay at the International Space Station (ISS), returned safely to the Republic of Kazakhstan by the Soyuz spacecraft (53S/MS-07) today".

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