Russian Soyuz spacecraft lands 420 km off-target

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Moscow, April 19 (UNI) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft with the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) today landed 420 km away from the target site in northern Kazakhstan.

The capsule came down in the Kazakh steppe at 1251 hrs Moscow time, 20 minutes later than the planned time, the Russian Mission Control Centre told the Itar-Tass news agency.

On board were Yi So-yeon, South Korea's first female astronaut, Yuri Malenchenko from Russia and American Peggy Whitson.

Russian officials said the crew was safe. Initially, it was thought that it would take rescuers more time to reach the area.

Ms Yi spent 11 days conducting tests at the International Space Station.

Ms Whitson now holds the record for the cumulative length of time spent in space by an American at 377 days, the US space agency Nasa said.

Before the Soyuz TMA-11 undocked, TV pictures showed the returning crew hugging those they were leaving behind. They include flight engineer Oleg Kononenko, 43, and Sergei Volkov, 34, the son of a famous Soviet cosmonaut, with whom Ms Yi made the flight to the ISS 10 days ago.

Ms Yi, who was chosen from about 36,000 applicants for the mission, has said she hoped it would help warm ties on the divided Korean peninsula.

UNI XC SLD BST1613

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