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Space station crew landing delayed by foul weather

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Three Russian and American astronauts are stuck for one more day aboard the international space station after foul weather delayed their landing on Friday in the steppes of Central Asia.

Since October, NASA's Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin have been aboard the orbiting outpost, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles above Earth.

Fog and freezing rain at the landing site in Kazakhstan prevented helicopters from setting up for the crew's return to Earth, NASA TV commentary said during live mission streaming.

A spokesman for the Russian space agency Roskosmos said the landing would be pushed back by one day and is now scheduled for 7:06 a.m. Moscow time (0306 GMT).

The crew's descent back to Earth aboard a Russia Soyuz spacecraft will take less than four hours.

In preparation for their departure, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield took the helm of the space station on Wednesday, becoming the first Canadian to take command of the outpost.

It is only the second time in the 12-year history of the station, a project of 15 nations that has been permanently staffed since November 2000, that command has been turned over to someone who is not American or Russian.

Hadfield will be part of a three-man skeleton crew until NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin arrive later this month.

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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