Three astronauts returning to Earth after six months on space station

Three astronauts were on their way back to Earth on Saturday after spending six months on the International Space Station (ISS).

Expedition 47 commander Tim Kopra of NASA, flight engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Soyuz commander Yuri Malenchenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos have undocked their Soyuz spacecraft from the ISS, US space agency NASA said.

After a three-hour journey in the Soyuz, they will land on the Kazakh steppe at 0900 GMT, according to ESA.

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.

The three astronauts blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December.

"After landing, the crew deploy a communication antenna for the rescue teams to pinpoint them, but search and rescue teams are often already onsite to retrieve the space voyagers," the ESA website said.

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 are scheduled to launch on July 6 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

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

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