Search and rescue personnel surround the Soyuz MS-09 capsule, carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew members Serena Aunon-Chancellor of the U.S., Alexander Gerst of Germany and Sergey Prokopyev of Russia, shortly after its landing in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, formerly known as Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan December 20, 2018. (REUTERS PHOTO)
MOSCOW, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-09 has successfully landed in Kazakhstan, bringing back the three astronauts who have completed their missions on the International Space Station (ISS), the Russian mission control center said Thursday.
"The landing section with Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev, NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and astronaut of the European Space Agency Alexander Gerst has landed," it was quoted by local media as saying.
On June 6, Russia successfully launched its Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft to the ISS. The three-member crew had lived on it for the scheduled 187 days.
Their successors, Oleg Kononenko of Russia, Anne McClain of the United States and David Saint-Jacques of Canada arrived in early December and are expected to stay on the ISS for six and a half months.
They were transported by the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft, which was launched on Dec. 3. The flight was carried out after a spacecraft lift-off failure in October.
On Oct. 11 the capsule of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague on board made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan after the carrier rocket malfunctioned shortly after lift-off.
Russia then suspended manned space missions but sent a cargo ship to the ISS on Nov. 16. The Progress MS-10 cargo ship carried about 2.5 tons of various supplies, including fuel, air, water, scientific equipment, and life-support equipment for the ISS crew.
The ISS astronauts have delivered to the Earth the evidence that Russian state space corporation Roscosmos and investigators need for probe into the microfracture found on the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft in late August, said the Russian mission control center.
On Dec. 12, a spacewalk was conducted by Russian cosmonauts to check the crack that led to a pressure leak at ISS.
Russia's Soyuz models are currently the only spacecraft for spaceflights between the ISS and the Earth.