Astronauts return to Earth from ISS amid US-Russia tensions

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The Soyuz MS-08 carrying Russia's Oleg Artemyev and NASA 's Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold touched down at 5.44 p.m.

They discovered - and quickly and effectively patched - a small hole in the station's hull, allowing precious oxygen to escape out into space. The address of this hole was run in August, which caused air leakage on the ISS, although it was immediately sealed.

"Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, now believes the hole was made on goal". At first there were statements from Russian officials that merely suggested that the hole could have been made deliberately by an astronaut wanting to return home early, but that snowballed into Russian news reports claiming that American astronauts drilled the hole in an act of sabotage. Roger is a Political Science graduate.

Three members of the Expedition 56 crew returned safely to Earth Thursday from the International Space Station, where they spent months providing hands-on support for scientific research in low-Earth orbit, working to keep the orbiting laboratory fully operational, and performing three spacewalks. He is set to return to Earth this week. The hole has been identified and fixed by space station crew.

Initially, the hole was thought to have been caused by a micrometeorite or a manufacturing defect. "The International Space Station Program is tentatively planning a spacewalk in November to gather more information".

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The ISS is one of the few areas of tight Russia-US cooperation that had until now remained unaffected by the slump in ties, including after Washington's sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and other crises.

The next launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is scheduled for next Thursday.

Feustel and Arnold were also able to escape the confines of the space station.

A trio of scientists who spent almost 200 days in space have now landed safely back on Earth after departing the International Space Station.