european space agency ESA.jpg
Photograph: EPA

After a three-hour long journey, a Soyuz capsule carrying astronauts Tim Peake, Tim Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko landed right on target in the Kazakhastan steppe on Saturday, the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed.

"Best ride I've been on ever," said Peake, who is the first Briton to go to the International Space Station (ISS). "It's just been fantastic from start to finish."

Mission control Houston called it a "bull's-eye landing," despite the capsule coming in on its side instead of an upright position.

Everything was "executed in flawless fashion," mission control said.

Within minutes of being extracted from the Soyuz capsule the search-and-rescue team took the vitals of all three astronauts and carried them in chairs to tents. They will undergo further medical tests as they acclimate and get their "land legs back."

The three - Expedition 47 commander Kopra of NASA, flight engineer Peake of the ESA and Soyuz commander Malenchenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos - spent six months on the ISS.

Peake, 43, a former helicopter pilot, was the first Briton on board the orbiting outpost. He was accompanied by American Kopra, 52, and Russian Malenchenko, 53.

Before leaving his orbiting home, Peake tweeted: "Time to put on some weight! What an incredible journey it has been – thank you for following & see you back on Earth!"

The three astronauts blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December.

While aboard the ISS, the crew ran experiments and tested new technologies that could potentially be used for future human exploration missions.

In April, Peake successfully ran a marathon in space, 400 kilometres above the London marathon taking place at the same time. He used a specially adapted running machine to take part in the 42-kilometre run from the ISS.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who are scheduled to launch on July 6 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, to replace the crew on the ISS.

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