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Astronauts return safely to Earth after flight from International Space Station

The first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates was among those on board.

The Russian Soyuz MS-12 space capsule lands (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)
The Russian Soyuz MS-12 space capsule lands (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

An American, a Russian and the first astronaut to fly into space from the United Arab Emirates have safely landed after a six-hour flight from the International Space Station.

The capsule carrying Nick Hague, Alexey Ovchinin and Hazzaa al-Mansoori touched down on the steppe in Kazakhstan in Central Asia on Thursday.

Mr al-Mansoori, the first of two men chosen by the United Arab Emirates to fly to the space station, is coming back after an eight-day mission while space veteran Mr Ovchinin and Mr Hague, who was on his maiden flight, are coming back after spending six months at the station.

Three Nasa astronauts, a European Space Agency crew member and two Russians remain aboard the orbiting lab to continue their work on hundreds of scientific experiments.

The three men were extracted from the capsule and put on fold-out chairs so that they could rest and undergo preliminary medical checks.

Mr al-Mansoori’s team wrapped the smiling astronaut in his country’s flag before taking him away for more health checks.

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Russian space agency rescue team members and United Arab Emirates specialists carry United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazzaa Ali al-Mansoori shortly after the landing (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)

The former military pilot, the first Arab to have travelled to the International Space Station, will return home to a hero’s welcome as his flight last month was widely celebrated across the country, and Dubai’s tallest skyscraper was lit up to mark the launch.

The UAE has a fledgling space programme with big ambitions.

It launched its first locally made satellite, KhalifaSat, in October from Japan, and it also wants to launch a probe to Mars in 2020.

PA

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