Russian crew returns from space station - NASA TV

A capsule carrying two US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut from the International Space Station landed in snowy Kazakhstan on Wednesday after a five-and-a-half month mission, a NASA TV live broadcast showed.

The Soyuz spacecraft brought back Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei, from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Alexander Misurkin, from Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The capsule landed in the snow covered steppe some 90 miles southeast of the central city of Zhezkazgan at 8.31 am. Misurkin was the first to emerge from the spacecraft, assisted by members of the Russian search and recovery team, and he was followed by Acaba who smiled and made a thumbs-up gesture.

The trio had spent five-and-a-half months at the ISS, a $100 billion lab that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

The are due to be replaced by NASA's Andrew Feustel and Richard Arnold, and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, whose spacecraft will blast off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, also in Kazakhstan, on March 21.