MOSCOW, July 1 (Xinhua) -- A Soyuz spacecraft with a crew of three on board has undocked from the International Space Station (ISS), preparing for its return to Earth, the Mission Control Center said Sunday.
The Soyuz TMA-03M capsule, carrying Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, U.S. astronaut Donald Pettit and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, uncoupled from the ISS at 8:48 a.m. Moscow time (0448 GMT) in an automatic mode.
It is expected to land on Earth at 12:15 Moscow time (0812 GMT) in Kazakhstan, according to the Mission Control Center.
Russia's Soyuz TMA-05M rocket is scheduled to send another three-member crew, namely NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and Japanese astronaut Akihito Hoshide, to the ISS from the Baikonur space center on July 15.
The three newcomers will join the current ISS crew of Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, who have been in orbit since mid-May.
After the retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, Russia's Soyuz spacecraft is the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS at least until 2015.