How airtight is the International Space Station

With a one-day delay, the Soyuz capsule with three astronauts from the International Space Station landed safely in the Kazakh steppe.

The US astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and her two Russian colleagues Alexander Skworzow and Mikhail Kornjenko returned to Earth on Saturday without any problems, the control center near Moscow said. A broken bolt initially prevented the undocking on Friday.

According to the Russian space agency Roskosmos, the space capsule landed at 07.23 a.m. (CEST). A spokesman for the control center said there were "no incidents" and the crew was doing well.

TV pictures showed the colleagues who had stayed behind on the ISS as they cheered the return home. "We came to earth gently and tenderly," said cosmonaut Alexander Skworzow, who was the first to get out of the capsule.

As is traditional in Russia, helpers gave him an apple as the first food. Skvorzov bit into it, grinning. His colleague Kornjenko, however, remarked that he would much rather have a cucumber. "We have to change the tradition," said Kornjenko. "I haven't had a cucumber for half a year!" His wish was promptly granted: The space traveler got his pickle.

The Soyuz left the International Space Station a day later than planned due to technical problems. It was the first time in ten years that a space capsule could not undock from the ISS.

After six months in space, Dyson, Skworzow and Kornjenko had to involuntarily extend their stay on the ISS by a day because it was feared that the spacecraft might not be completely airtight.

A computer signal that reported a loss of pressure was wrong, said the head of the Roscosmos space agency, Anatoly Perminov, according to Russian news agencies. The problem was "purely mechanical in nature". A small bolt broke. According to Soyuz manufacturing company Energia, this resulted in the spaceship not being able to release its docking hooks. According to Roscosmos, the problem was quickly resolved.