Disappearing into a layer of haze as it approached the ground, the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft capsule carrying United States astronaut Jeff Williams, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin landed south-east of the town of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan yesterday.
The trio wrapped up a 172-day mission aboard the International Space Station with a parachute descent and landing at dawn on the steppes, a Nasa TV broadcast showed.
Before leaving the station, Mr Williams turned over command of the US$100 billion (S$134.4 billion) outpost, a project involving 15 nations, to cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, who remains aboard with Nasa astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi.
"We'll be missing you here," Mr Ivanishin said during a change-of-command ceremony on Monday. "Have fun riding though the atmosphere... and have a very safe and exceptionally soft landing."
The three who returned wore traditional Kazakh hats at a press conference after their landing. A replacement crew is due to launch on Sept 23 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.