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First Brazilian astronaut returns safely to Earth
04/09/2006
A capsule carrying Brazil's first astronaut, along with a Russian and an American, landed in the Kazakh steppe early Sunday after separating from the international space station and hurtling through the Earth's atmosphere. American astronaut Bill McArthur, Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and Brazilian Marcos Pontes touched down on target and on schedule at 03:47 a.m. Moscow time (2347 GMT Saturday). Officials at Russia's Mission Control in Korolyov, outside Moscow, reported that the capsule had been in radio contact for much of the bone-jarring, 3 1/2-hour journey and that all three crew members were feeling well. The TMA-7 landed on its side about 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Arkalyk after what Mission Control officials called a flawless flight. Pontes had carried a Brazilian flag and national soccer jersey on his trip to the international space station, hoping it would bring his national team victory in this summer's World Cup.
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