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Amid tensions over Ukraine, Russian Soyuz space capsule returns three astronauts to Earth

A Russian Soyuz TMA-11M space capsule lands about 150 km (93 miles) southeast of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The Soyuz space capsule carrying three astronauts who had spent a half-year aboard the International Space Station landed Wednesday in the steppes of Kazakhstan. (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls) A Russian space capsule lands about 193 miles southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on May 14. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

After spending half a year aboard the International Space Station, three astronauts were safely returned to Earth on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

All three astronauts appeared to be in good condition as they were pulled from the top of the Russian Soyuz space capsule in Kazakhstan. The astronauts were Mikhail Tyurin of Russia, Koichi Wakata of Japan and Rick Mastracchio of the United States.

Yesterday, Russia announced it will deny U.S. astronauts transportation to the International Space Station (ISS) in response to recent sanctions. Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post reported on the sanctions last month:

“After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest the U.S. delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, the recipient of a U.S. asset freeze and travel ban, said Tuesday, referring to the international space station. The United States relies on Russian space shuttle flights to launch astronauts into orbit.

UPI reported on Russia’s response Yesterday:

[Rogozin] also noted that U.S. involvement is not necessary for continued use of the station, saying “the Russian segment can exist independently from the American one. The U.S. one cannot. … After 2020, we would like to divert these funds [used for ISS] to more promising space projects,” he told reporters.



Nick Kirkpatrick is the foreign photo editor at the Washington Post. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter.

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