Three astronauts touch down on Kazakh steppe after 6 months in space

British astronaut Tim Peake waving after a safe landing in Kazakhstan.
British astronaut Tim Peake waving after a safe landing in Kazakhstan.PHOTO: EPA
The astronauts, surrounded by ground personnel, resting after their safe landing in Kazakhstan.
The astronauts, surrounded by ground personnel, resting after their safe landing in Kazakhstan.PHOTO: REUTERS
Russian astronaut Yuri Malenchenko resting shortly after landing. REUTERS
Russian astronaut Yuri Malenchenko resting shortly after landing. REUTERSPHOTO: REUTERS
US astronaut Timothy Kopra speaking on a satellite phone shortly after landing.
US astronaut Timothy Kopra speaking on a satellite phone shortly after landing.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - A three-man crew, including British astronaut Tim Peake, landed in the Kazakh steppe on Saturday (June 18) after completing a six-month mission at the International Space Station (ISS).

Mr Peake, the first British astronaut on the ISS, Russia's Yury Malenchenko and Nasa's Tim Kopra parachuted down to Earth in their Soyuz capsule at 9.15am GMT (5.15pm Singapore time) after spending 186 days in orbit.

Video footage from the landing site, south-east of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan, showed medics attending to the smiling men.

"It was incredible. The best ride I've ever been on," Mr Peake said. "It has just been fantastic, from start to finish."

The 44-year-old former helicopter test pilot said he was looking forward to seeing his family.


Search-and-rescue team members rolling the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft capsule carrying the astronauts shortly after landing. PHOTO: REUTERS

"I'm going to miss the view," he said, referring to his six-month stint in space.

The trio had blasted off into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December.

At around 2.15am GMT, they bid farewell to Nasa astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin, who remain aboard the ISS.

Their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft then undocked from the ISS, Russian space agency Roscomos said.


The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft capsule carrying the astronauts descends beneath a parachute. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Peake's mission has generated great excitement in Britain, where the government unveiled an ambitious new space policy on the eve of his departure for the International Space Station.

Mr Peake's time in space was marked by a number of milestones. In January, he became the first Briton to walk in space, undertaking a mission to replace an electrical unit.

In April, he ran a marathon in space in record time, strapped into a treadmill while thousands ran the London Marathon.


The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft capsule carrying the astronauts, landing in Kazakhstan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Peake managed to achieve the fastest ever marathon in space by marking a time of 3hr 35min 21sec, setting a Guinness World Record.

The next launch of astronauts from the Baikonur cosmodrome is scheduled to take place on July 7.

It will take Russia's Anatoly Ivanishin, the United States' Kate Rubins and Japan's Takuya Onishi to the ISS.