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Canadian, Russian, American back on Earth from space station

MOSCOW (AP) — Three astronauts safely returned to Earth on Tuesday after spending more than six months aboard the International Space Station.

The Soyuz capsule with astronauts from Canada, Russia and the United States landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan at 8:47 a.m. (0247GMT), less than a minute ahead of the scheduled time, on Tuesday after a 3 ½ hour flight from the orbiting lab.

Two of the astronauts had completed their maiden flights: Anne McClain of the United States and David Saint-Jacques of Canada. The expedition commander Oleg Kononenko of Russia has ended his fourth space mission. All three spent 204 days in space.

Americans Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Russia's Alexey Ovchinin remain aboard the space station.

The space veteran Kononenko who was the first one to have been extracted from the capsule looked visibly tired and pale. McClain and Saint-Jacques were more energetic and gave a thumbs-up to the recovery team who greeted the three with applause.

The astronauts were put on camping chairs in the sun just by the capsule for a respite and initial medical checks.

When asked by a reporter on site if he liked the weather Kononenko said he was "happy to see any kind of weather" after spending over 200 days in space.

The crew is expected to be taken to a local airport and fly to their home bases.

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