British astronaut Tim Peake has returned to earth after six months on the International Space Station.
The 44-year-old former helicopter test pilot landed in a Soyuz space capsule on a remote spot on the Kazakhstan steppe at 10.15am, UK time.
With Peake was Principia mission crewmates, US Nasa astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.
The space travellers were pulled one-by-one from the Soyuz and placed in comfortable seats.
Peake had his eyes closed and looked exhausted at first, but then smiled and gave a thumbs up to waiting reporters, the Press Association reports.
Asked how he felt, he said: "Great, thanks. It was incredible - the best ride I've been on ever.
"I'm just truly elated. The smells of the Earth are so strong. It's just wonderful to feel the fresh air.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the family now."
He added that spending 186 days on the International Space Station was a "life changing experience". Now he was contemplating treating himself to a "pizza and cold beer".
Peake was the first British astronaut to be sent to the ISS by the European Space Agency (Esa).
During the historic trip, the British astronaut ran the London Marathon on a treadmill and earned an honour from the Queen for “extraordinary service beyond our planet”.
The father-of-two took part in more than 250 experiments, performed a space walk and inspired more than a million schoolchildren.
Shortly after 3am on Saturday, the three men scrambled from the International Space Station (ISS) to the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft that took them into orbit on December 15 last year.
Closing the hatch marked the official end of Peake’s historic mission.
The trip home involved a hair-raising plunge through the atmosphere in the tiny middle section of the Soyuz, the descent module.
Friction on the spacecraft’s heat shield slowed its speed from 17,398 mph (28,000 kph) to 514 mph (827 kph) and raise the outside temperature to 1,600C, the Press Association reports.
The rapid deceleration pushed the crew back into their shock-absorbing seats with a force of around five gee - five times normal Earth gravity.
One Nasa astronaut, Doug Wheelock, has described the experience of a Soyuz descent as “like going over Niagara falls in a barrel, but the barrel is on fire”.
On Friday night, Peake sent his last tweet from the ISS.
The tweet read: "Time to put on some weight. What an incredible journey it has been - thank you for following and see you back on Earth."
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.