Search and rescue helicopters are seen before a flight to the landing area of the Soyuz MS-09 capsule with the International Space Station (ISS) crew onboard during sunrise in the town of Zhezkazgan, formerly known as Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Shamil Zhumatov/Pool Photo via AP)

3 astronauts return from International Space Station

The trio has spent 197 days in space.

Three astronauts returned to Earth Thursday after more than six months aboard the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz capsule with NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergey Prokopyev and German astronaut Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency landed on the snow-covered steppes in Kazakhstan, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) southeast of the city of Dzhezkazgan. They touched down a minute ahead of schedule at 11:02 a.m. local time (0502 GMT; 12:02 a.m. EST).

The crew radioed that they were feeling fine. Russian rescue teams in helicopters and all-terrain vehicles rushed to the landing site to extract the astronauts from the capsule charred by a fiery ride through atmosphere.

The trio has spent 197 days in space. It was the first mission for Aunon-Chancellor and Prokopyev, while Gerst flew his second to a total of 362 days in orbit, setting the ESA’s flight duration record.

The rescue crews helped the crew in their balky space suits leave the capsule and conducted an initial medical examination. The astronauts will be taken to Dzhezkazgan for a brief welcome ceremony before being flown to their respective countries for more thorough check-ups.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, who have arrived at the station earlier this month, are set to remain in orbit until June.

Read more: Canadian astronaut lifts off on Russian rocket to International Space Station

Read more: NASA wants Canadian boots on the moon as first step in deep space exploration

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

Hagensborg Water District ratepayers vote to dissolve district

In a close vote of 68 to 63, ratepayers have chosen to dissolve the water district

Bella Coola residents rely on food bank support

Your volunteers at the food bank work year-round, but are especially busy at Christmas

Nimpkish back in service while NSW undergoes repairs

The Northern Sea Wolf sustained damage to its propellers from a log strike in November

Nature Conservancy of Canada purchases Tidal Flats

Land critical habitat for migratory birds, mammals and fish

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read