In this photo provided by NASA, Expedition 59 astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is helped out of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft just minutes after he, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Picture: Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP
In this photo provided by NASA, Expedition 59 astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is helped out of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft just minutes after he, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Picture: Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP
The Soyuz MS-11 capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, lands in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool via Reuters
The Soyuz MS-11 capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, lands in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool via Reuters
A Russian Soyuz MS-11 space capsule stands on the ground after the landing south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
A Russian Soyuz MS-11 space capsule stands on the ground after the landing south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
Three astronauts safely returned to Earth on Tuesday after spending more than six months aboard the International Space Station. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
Three astronauts safely returned to Earth on Tuesday after spending more than six months aboard the International Space Station. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
A search and rescue team approaches the Soyuz MS-11 capsule shortly after the landing about 150 km (80 miles) south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
A search and rescue team approaches the Soyuz MS-11 capsule shortly after the landing about 150 km (80 miles) south-east of the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
A search and rescue team works on the site of the landing of the Soyuz MS-11 capsule after the landing about 150 km (90 miles) south-east of Zhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
A search and rescue team works on the site of the landing of the Soyuz MS-11 capsule after the landing about 150 km (90 miles) south-east of Zhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP
A search and rescue team works on the site of the landing of the Soyuz MS-11 capsule carrying an International Space Station (ISS) crew in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan. Picture:  Alexander Nemenov/Pool via Reuters
A search and rescue team works on the site of the landing of the Soyuz MS-11 capsule carrying an International Space Station (ISS) crew in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool via Reuters
The Soyuz MS-11 capsule carrying an International Space Station (ISS) crew descends beneath a parachute before landing in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool via Reuters
The Soyuz MS-11 capsule carrying an International Space Station (ISS) crew descends beneath a parachute before landing in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool via Reuters

Moscow — 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.

Russian space agency rescue team members help Russian cosmonaut Оleg Kononenko, centre, to get from the capsule shortly after the landing of the Russian Soyuz MS-11 space capsule. Picture: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP

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.

AP