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Soyuz space capsule 'soft landing' looks more like an explosion

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As you might have guessed, the trip back from space isn't exactly a smooth ride. Italy's Samantha Cristoforetti, Russia's Anton Shkaplerov, and the United States' Terry Virts found that out first hand on Thursday morning, when their Soyuz capsule "soft landed" on the steppe of Kazakstan.

"Soft landing" is a bit of an understatement though. After completing the three-hour-plus trip from the International Space Station, it was time to land. But once the capsule entered our lower atmosphere and deployed its parachute, nothing more than a brief rocket blast just before impact cushioned the landing.

nasa expedition 43 landing

It certainly looks like there's nothing "soft" about it when you watch the video of the landing — "explosion" seems more like the right word, even though everything went according to plan. According to Time, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly compared the trip to "going over Niagara Falls in a barrel — that’s on fire."