Cosmonauts head back to earth with football slated for World Cup

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The Russian Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft with three members of the International Space Station (ISS) crew successfully landed in Kazakhstan's steppe on Sunday, the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said.

Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and flight engineers Scott Tingle of Nasa and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are heading back to Earth after completing a mission spanning 168 days, with 2,688 orbits and a journey of 71.2 million miles.

Earlier footage from the ISS showed Shkaplerov and a fellow cosmonaut practising with the ball.

Russian news agency TASS reported that the ball is planned to be used during the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow on Jun 14, although FIFA has not confirmed that information.

According to the Russian agency TASS, that ball will be also used in the opening match of the World Cup, on June 14, in Moscow, although the information has not yet been confirmed by Federation Internationale de Football Association.

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The three men worked on a variety of scientific experiments during their time on the ISS.

According to NASA, the USA space agency, astronauts can gain up to 3% in height while in space but regain their normal height when they return to Earth.

Tingle and Kanai ventured outside the station on separate spacewalks to perform work on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm.

Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Sergei Prokopyev of Roscosmos are set to launch to the ISS from Baikonur on Wednesday.

The three had been on the orbital laboratory since mid-December, with Shkaplerov, 46, serving as mission commander from February until he turned over command to American Drew Feustel on Saturday.

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