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The three members of Expedition 56 returned home inside the same Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft that delivered the other half of the Expedition 56 crew in June. NASA astronauts Drew Füstel and Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artimyev of Roskosmos landed in the southeast of Kazak town of Kazakhstan at 11.45 pm on worldwide time.

The crew completed hundreds of experiments during its 197-day expedition in space.

Rather than giving greater credence to foul play, the elimination of a manufacturing defect as causing the hole "indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production", NASA said.

The trio returning from the ISS to the Earth are Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronauts Richard Arnold and Andrew Feustel.

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NASA and the Russian space agency are continuing to investigate the incident, and NASA said there are tentative plans to conduct a spacewalk next month to gather more information. The hole has been identified and fixed by space station crew. They will launch October 11 on the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a six-month mission on the International Space Station.

While he was on his third mission in space, 47-year-old Artemyev and 54-year-old Arnold had previously only served on one mission each. They performed maintenance by replacing external cameras mounted on the space station and also upgraded various components related to the spacecraft's cooling and communications systems.

The six-person ISS crew includes two Russians, two Americans and a German representing the European Space Agency.

Russian space agency Roscosmos immediately launched an investigation into the hole, and its chief official Dmitry Rogozin went on television days later to say it could have been the result of foul play either back on Earth or by astronauts in space.


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