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Soyuz lands safely in Kazakhstan, rattles nerves

After spending 164 days in space, NASA astronaut Ron Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev are back on Earth.

September 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts from the International Space Station touched down safely Friday in Central Kazakhstan.

After spending 164 days in space, NASA astronaut Ron Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev are back on Earth.

Communication issues caused some tense moments just before the landing, but the problem was fixed.

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 circling the landing site.

The next launch of a manned Soyuz spacecraft to the space station is scheduled for Nov. 12.

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, had to postpone that launch from October amid concerns over a failed supply mission last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.