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Record-setting cosmonaut begins return trip from International Space Station

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A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying the world’s most experienced space flier and two rookie crewmates returned from the International Space Station on Friday, with a pinpoint parachute landing in Kazakhstan, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

The capsule departed the station at EDT/2139 and touched down at EDT/0051 southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Strapped inside was former station commander Gennady Padalka, 57, returning from his fifth spaceflight with a record 879 days in orbit. The previous record was set by six-time flier Sergei Krikalev, who has a career total 803 days in space.

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Joining Padalka for the ride back to Earth were two rookies, Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov and Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen, both of whom spent less than 10 days in orbit.

“There definitely hasn’t been time to get homesick,” Mogensen, the first Dane in space, told reporters during an inflight press conference on Tuesday. “Time has really, really flown past.”

Mogensen and Aimbetov launched with Padalka’s replacement, veteran cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, aboard another Soyuz capsule on Sept. 2. That flight was originally to have included British soprano and aspiring space tourist Sarah Brightman. Citing family reasons, Brightman stopped training in May and relinquished her seat to Aimbetov.

Volkov remains aboard the station, along with five crewmates, including newly named commander Scott Kelly, with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

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Kelly and Kornienko this week passed the halfway point of a planned year-long stay in space, the longest tour of duty in the station’s 15-year history.

“I expected this to not be easy. A year is a long time,” Kelly said. “You have to pace yourself.”

NASA and Russia are using the year-long mission to get better insight into how microgravity affects human physical and mental health, and what countermeasures may mitigate any harmful effects.

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In a decade, NASA intends to begin flying astronauts farther beyond the space station, a $100 billion research laboratory that orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth. The long-term goal of the U.S. space program is a human expedition to Mars in the 2030s.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)

Watch footage of the Soyuz crew leaving the space station, as posted online on Friday, below.

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2020 Election

GOP’s cancellation of presidential primaries could blow up in Trump’s face — here’s why

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In recent weeks, Republican state party committees have been moving to cancel presidential primaries to prevent Never-Trump conservatives, like former Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) and former Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA), from challenging the president from the right. So far, Republicans in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina have all announced they will scrap the voting process for 2020.

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Mike Pence should be investigated for his part in Ukraine negotiations and ‘we need some answers’: Ex-prosecutor

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On MSNBC's "AM Joy" Saturday, former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance agreed with host Joy Reid that Vice President Mike Pence could be involved in the Ukraine whistleblower cover-up — and that Congress needs to act to learn the truth for the American people.

"Let me go to you on this very quickly, Joyce, because here's the question for Mike Pence," said Reid. "Mike Pence has been sort of severed from all of the other questions that are relating to potential impeachment for Donald Trump, that the House is wrestling with right now, but if Pence ... went in knowing why the aid was being held up, went in and spoke to the leader of Ukraine knowing what stick the administration had over them, and in that way was drawn in to this idea of using that stick to try to get what they wanted from Ukraine, does he then face the jeopardy of perhaps also being drawn into the questions of impeachment?"

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‘We’re not through’: After biggest climate protest in history draws 4 million worldwide, campaigners prepare for week of action

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"September 20th was a demonstration of intent, of 4 million people who took time off from work or school to say that they are ready to move on and make the changes we need."

As organizers behind Friday's Global Climate Strike reported that four million children and adults attended marches and rallies all over the world—making it the biggest climate protest ever—they assured leaders who have been reticent to take bold climate action that the campaigners' work is far from over.

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