Three space station crew members return to Earth
Published 07/09/2016 | 00:36
A record-setting American and two Russians have landed safely back on Earth after a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
Nasa's Jeff Williams returned as the US record holder for time in orbit, logging 534 days in space over four missions.
Mr Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka logged 72.8 million miles in space, circling the globe 2,752 times before landing on the south central steppes of Kazakhstan 23 minutes after sunrise on Wednesday.
The trio undocked from the space station nearly three and a half hours before touchdown in hazy sunshine with a comfortable welcome home temperature around 19C about 90 miles south east of Zhezkazgan.
The three conducted experiments aboard the space station, and Mr Williams set the US record last month for most time spent in space, beating the previous record set by Scott Kelly during his year in orbit.
The world record is held by Russian Gennady Padalka at 879 days in space. Thirteen Russians have more time in space than Mr Williams.
Nasa called it a "picturesque landing" on a picture-perfect day, adding: "Everything went very smoothly, very normally."
The three flyers were all smiles as they were pulled out of the Russian Soyuz capsule, which landed on its side.
Mr Williams wore a black baseball cap while seated outside talking on a mobile phone. Mr Ovchinin clutched a stuffed doll his daughter gave him as a mascot that went into space with him.
They were then carried to a medical tent for routine tests to see how they adjust to gravity, including checking to see how they could stand.