Space Station Returns 3 Crew Members to Earth

The International Space Station will release two astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut, returning them to earth tonight after more than five months living and working in orbit.

Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, Expedition 27 commander, and astronauts Catherine (Cady) Coleman of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of Italy will be landing their Russian-built Soyuz space capsule somewhere in Central Asia, probably on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli will depart from the space station while the space shuttle Endeavour and its six-astronaut crew are docked at the orbiting laboratory. Endeavour is being retired following this, its last mission. The shuttle's team is half way through a 16-day mission to aid in the space station's day-to-day following the end of NASA's space shuttle program.

"I think we've done a lot of great science, and certainly I think the space station is in a really good state for the future," Coleman said, according to

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