An anonymous reader writes in with news that the astronauts who helped dock the first privately owned spacecraft with the ISS have returned safely to earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule. "A Russian Soyuz capsule landed on the Kazakh steppes on Sunday, safely delivering a trio of astronauts who helped to dock the first privately owned spacecraft during a six-month stint on the International Space Station. The descent capsule, carrying Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers, touched down with its parachute in a cloud of dust at 0814 GMT. The crew left the space station early on Sunday after serving 183 days in orbit, often sharing their experiences with the public via blogs and Twitter.
At the end of May, the crew released Space Exploration Technologies' unmanned Dragon cargo, which arrived as part of a test flight and was the first privately owned spaceship to reach the $100 billion orbital outpost, which is a 15-nation project.
Three other ISS crew members - Russia's Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba - will remain in orbit."