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 US landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan on Tuesday morning, less than a minute ahead of schedule 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 US 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 Kononenko, the first to have been extracted from the capsule, looked visibly tired and pale. McClain and Saint-Jacques were more energetic and gave a thumbs-up to the recovery team.
The astronauts were put on camping chairs in the sun just by the capsule for a respite and initial medical checks.
When asked by a reporter on site if he liked the weather, Kononenko said he was "happy to see any kind of weather" after spending over 200 days in space.
Australian Associated Press