Three astronauts land safely in Kazakhastan after six months in space

A Soyuz space capsule carrying astronauts Tim Peake, Tim Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko landed safely in the Kazakhastan steppe on Saturday, the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed.

After a three-hour journey the capsule landed right on target at 0915 GMT assisted by a parachute, ESA said.

An on-the-ground search and recovery team reported that the Soyuz landed on its side instead of upright because of strong winds.

A "fairly routine occurance," everything else was "executed in flawless fashion," mission control said.

"The team is now making their way around the spacecraft to ensure all systems are safe before beginning the process of opening the hatch and extracting the crew," they added after video signal was lost.

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 International Space Station (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.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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