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Three-man crew return to Earth from International Space Station

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NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner blasted off in April, when around half the world's population was living under lockdown - Russian Space Agency Roscosmos/AFP/File

An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts touched down on the Kazakhstan steppe on Thursday, completing a 196-day mission that began with the first launch under lockdown conditions.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner landed around 150 kilometres (90 miles) southeast of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan at 0254 GMT, footage broadcast by the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed.

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A NASA commentator citing communications from crews on the ground at the landing site said that the Soyuz descent module had landed in a vertical position and that the crew were working on getting the trio out of the craft.

The three-man crew had blasted off minus the unusual fanfare in April with around half the world’s population living under national lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The mission coincided with the arrival at the space station in May of the first astronauts to blast off from US soil for almost a decade.

The mission carried out by tycoon Elon Musk’s SpaceX company as part of NASA’s commercial Commercial Crew Program has helped fuel talk of a new “space race” between a number of countries.

Prior to returning from his third mission in space, former US Navy SEAL Cassidy, 50, tweeted a picture of blood samples that astronauts have to submit at various points in their mission, including just before undocking.

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“What is the price of a return ride back to Earth?….8 tubes of blood!! The 7 shown in this picture were taken in the morning to be placed in our deep freezer, and the 8th will be drawn just prior to undock for ground processing soon after landing,” Cassidy wrote.

First-time-flyer Vagner was a rare Roscosmos presence on the micro-blogging platform, where most NASA astronauts have a profile.

“Mama, I’m coming home,” the 35-year-old tweeted on Wednesday.

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Ivanishin is wrapping up his third mission, after NASA’s Kathleen Rubins, with whom he launched to the ISS in 2016, arrived for a second stint aboard the station last week along with Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos.

The ISS, has been a rare example of cooperation between Moscow and Washington.

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Next month will mark the 20th anniversary of the orbital lab being permanently occupied by humans, but the station is expected to be decommissioned in the next decade due to structural fatigue.

© 2020 AFP


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2020 Election

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"The View" co-hosts are furious that President Donald Trump is still refusing to stand down after losing the 2020 election. To make matters worse, Republican communications consultant Ana Navarro blames Republicans for allowing the madness to persist for so long that it's now starting to put the United States in a compromised situation.

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President Donald Trump on Sunday formally exited the Open Skies Treaty, but now he's moving to scrap the planes, ensuring President Joe Biden will not be able to re-enter the program easily.

The Open Skies Treaty is an 18-year old agreement designed to allow the U.S. to fly reconnaissance  missions over Russia to ensure the Pentagon and the President are informed of military deployments and movements. First proposed in 1992, the treaty was formalized in 2002. 34 nations are party to the agreement, and all are allowed to fly unarmed aircraft over any member nation. The goal is to ensure transparency and mutual understanding.

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Nebraska racist attacks Black neighbor with chainsaw after assuming she was stealing from him

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A racist Nebraska man attacked his Black neighbor with a chainsaw because he assumed she was stealing from him.

Daniel Stueck confronted the woman Saturday afternoon when she arrived at her Lincoln apartment building, and police said he revved the chainsaw and told her to leave the rental property, reported KLKN-TV.

The woman told police that Stueck called her a racial slur, and continued using racist language and said she "better run."

The 41-year-old Stueck told police that Black people had been stealing from him and he assumed the woman "was guilty because she was Black."

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