After 159 days on the International Space Station and a 50-minute reentry, NASA commander Scott Kelly and two Russian flight engineers, Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri, landed with a gentle thud in rural Kazakhstan on March 16. High winds dragged their Soyuz capsule several feet before it came to a rest.

Within moments of touchdown, the capsule was surrounded by flight surgeons, nurses, pilots and technicians, who had arrived in eight helicopters, three airplanes that act as mobile command centers, and all-terrain vehicles for ground support. As the astronauts emerged from the capsule, each was wrapped in blankets over his flight suit and shuttled into helicopters for a two-hour flight to the northern city of Kostanay, the next leg of their long trip home.