Japanese Astronaut Returns To Earth

Japanese astronaut returns to Earth

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai and 2 crewmembers have returned to Earth after completing their mission at the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying the 3 landed on the plains of Kazakhstan around 9:40 PM on Sunday, Japan Time. The other crewmembers are an American and a Russian.

Kanai is a former medical officer with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force. During his 6-month mission, he conducted various scientific experiments and walked in space outside the ISS.

The Soyuz undocked from the ISS for its return journey shortly after 6 PM.

It then reentered the Earth's atmosphere and gradually parachuted down to the ground in Central Asia.

Kanai was lifted out of the spacecraft after landing. He looked a little tired, but waved to people around him and smiled.

He then sat on a chair and was carried to a nearby tent for health checks.

Officials of Japan's space agency, JAXA, say he is in good health.

Kanai boarded a NASA plane at an airport in Kazakhstan and is heading to the Johnson Space Center in the southern US state of Texas, where he will do rehabilitation work to readjust to Earth's gravity.

He is expected to return to Japan as early as mid-June.