Cosmonauts head back to earth with football slated for World Cup

Cristina Cross
June 5, 2018

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.

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.

Anton Shkaplerov, who was the first to be lifted and carried from the capsule, told the camera crew: "We are a bit exhausted but happy with what we have accomplished and happy to be back on Earth. We're feeling a little exhausted, but at the same time, we are proud to have accomplished this and are glad to be back on Earth", he said.

The ball, called Telstar 18, was taken to the ISS in March by the Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. News agency Tass reported that it was to be used in the opening game, although this has not been confirmed by worldwide football federation Fifa.

This mission was the first for Tingle and Kanai, and Shkaplerov now has logged 532 days in space on three flights.

Tingle and Kanai ventured outside the station on separate spacewalks to perform work on parts of the Canadarm2 robotic arm, and also participated in educational events as part of NASA's Year of Education on Station, said the statement.

The launch and docking to the space station will be broadcast on NASA Television.

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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.

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

The orbiting laboratory now has a crew of three: Americans Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Russian Oleg Artemyev.

The ISS passes into the dark side of the earth for roughly half of each of its 90-minute orbits.

JAXA president Hiroshi Yamakawa said: "I am very pleased that Astronaut Kanai, who completed a long stay at the International Space Station (ISS), returned safely to the Republic of Kazakhstan by the Soyuz spacecraft (53S/MS-07) today".

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

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