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Space Station astronauts return to Earth

World News | Published:

The trio had spent 204 days in space.

A rescue team helps Russian cosmonaut Оleg Kononenko

Three astronauts have safely returned to Earth after spending more than six months aboard the International Space Station.

The Soyuz capsule with astronauts from Canada, Russia and the United States landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan at 8.47am local time (1.47am BST) on Tuesday, less than a minute ahead of the scheduled time, after a three-and-a-half-hour flight from the orbiting lab.

Two of the astronauts had completed their maiden flights – Anne McClain of the United States and David Saint-Jacques of Canada.

The expedition commander Oleg Kononenko of Russia has ended his fourth space mission. All three spent 204 days in space.

Americans Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Russia’s Alexey Ovchinin remain aboard the space station.

Space veteran Mr Kononenko, who was the first one to be extracted from the capsule, looked visibly tired and pale.

Ms McClain and Mr Saint-Jacques were more energetic and gave a thumbs-up to the recovery team who greeted the three with applause.

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The Soyuz space capsule descends about 90 miles south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan
The Soyuz space capsule descends about 90 miles south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan (Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP)

The astronauts were put on camping chairs in the sun just by the capsule for some respite and initial medical checks.

When asked by a reporter on site if he liked the weather, Mr Kononenko said he was “happy to see any kind of weather” after spending over 200 days in space.

The crew is expected to be taken to a local airport before flying to their home bases.

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