Trio reach Earth from ISS with football slated for World Cup

Roscosmos posted on Thursday a video of Shkaplerov and fellow cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev practicing in the ISS with an Adidas Telstar 18 football.

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 June 14.   -  AFP

Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov made it back to Earth Sunday along with an official match football that could be used later this month in the opening game of the World Cup in Moscow.

Shkaplerov, Scott Tingle of the United States and Norishige Kanai of Japan touched down on the Kazakh steppe at the expected time of 1239 GMT after a 168-day mission aboard the International Space Station.

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Footage from the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed the Soyuz descent module carrying the three touch down as recovery helicopters circled over the landing site.

Roscosmos posted on Thursday a video of Shkaplerov and fellow cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev practicing in the ISS with an Adidas Telstar 18 football.

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 June 14, although FIFA has not confirmed that information.

Shkaplerov, Tingle and Kanai spent more than five months in space working on a variety of scientific experiments.

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First-time flyer Tingle also completed a spacewalk to replace the hand on the station's robotic arm.

Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency made life on the space station more accessible to Japanese-speakers by tweeting in the language most days.

But one Kanai tweet in January caused confusion after he mistakenly claimed to have grown taller by nine centimetres just weeks after arriving on board the ISS.

He later tweeted a correction and apology, clarifying that he had actually only grown by two centimetres.

The US space agency NASA says that astronauts can grow up to three percent taller in space but return to their normal height when back on Earth.

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The space laboratory has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998.

Space research has been one of the few areas of international cooperation between Russia and the West that has not been wrecked by the Ukraine crisis.

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