Early return: Soyuz disembarks from ISS
The Russian Soyuz capsule disembarked from the International Space Station (ISS) early Friday and began its journey home to Earth, four days earlier than planned, dpa reported.
Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and astronauts Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock undocked from the ISS at 1:23 GMT. The Soyuz was set to land in Kazakhstan at 4:46 GMT, according to Russia's space agency Roskosmos.
The Soyuz had been set to return on November 30, but the trip was moved up because of a summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from December 1-2. The summit will lead authorities to close the air space over the central Asian country.
The ISS will be maintained over the next few weeks by a three-man crew of cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka as well as astronaut Sott Kelly. They will soon be joined by cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, astronaut Cady Coleman and Italian Paolo Nespoli, who are set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 15.