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3 astronauts, including Japan's Kanai, return from ISS after nearly 5-month mission

A NASA space agency specialist, left, helps Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai shortly after the landing of the Russian Soyuz MS 07 space capsule about 150 km (80 miles) south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, June 3, 2018. A Soyuz space capsule with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, returning from a mission to the International Space Station landed safely on Sunday on the steppes of Kazakhstan. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool)
A Russian Soyuz MS-07 space capsule lands about 150 km (80 miles) south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, June 3, 2018. A Soyuz space capsule with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, returning from a mission to the International Space Station landed safely on Sunday on the steppes of Kazakhstan. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool)

ZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan (Kyodo) -- Three crew members of the International Space Station returned to Earth on Sunday after completing a five-and-a-half month mission, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, center, his Russian counterpart Anton Shkaplerov, left, and Scott D. Tingle of the United States simile as they moved from the International Space Station (ISS) into the Soyuz space capsule before their landing in Kazakhstan on June 3, 2018. (Photo from Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev's tweet on ISS)

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, Norishige Kanai of Japan and Scott Tingle of NASA landed in the Kazakhstan countryside around 6:40 p.m., three-and-a-half hours after detaching from the station.

The three had been on the orbital laboratory since mid-December, with Shkaplerov, 46, serving as mission commander from February until he turned over command to American Drew Feustel on Saturday.

"(The landing) was like a roller coaster. All over again I feel my body is heavy, I feel the gravity," Kanai told reporters after he was taken from the spacecraft.

Kanai, a 41-year-old former Maritime Self-Defense Force doctor, had drawn international attention for claiming on Twitter to have grown 9 centimeters taller after three weeks at the space station due to the absence of gravity. He later said he had made a measurement mistake and had only grown 2 cm.

During his stay at the ISS, he conducted various scientific experiments as the 12th Japanese astronaut to travel into space and the seventh to stay at the ISS for a period of months.

Kanai became the fourth Japanese astronaut to walk in space in February.

In April, he operated the ISS's robotic arm to catch a U.S. unmanned resupply ship.

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