Home at last: Nasa astronaut returns to Earth after breaking space record

An astronaut who set a record for the longest time in orbit safely returned to Earth on Wednesday after a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. American Jeff Williams, 58, touched down along with two Russian cosmonauts after his latest stint in space saw him log a US record 534 days in space over four missions. The ISS commander landed on the steppes of central Kazakhstan aboard a Russian-made Soyuz capsule along with Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. “Touchdown! Welcome home @Astro_Jeff, officially back on Earth after 172-day mission & total 534 days on 4 missions,” Nasa tweeted.

I will certainly miss this view! Vast gratitude toward my crewmates, ground teams, supporting friends, and family

Jeff Williams in one of his last tweets from space

The three men undocked from the ISS nearly three-and-a-half hours earlier after spending their mission largely conducting scientific experiments. A Nasa live video feed showed Williams on the ground smiling and waving while talking on a satellite phone before being carried away for medical tests. The retired Army colonel performed five space walks to install a docking adapter for future commercial Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules to visit the space station. The grandfather, who first blasted to space aboard the shuttle Atlantis in 2000, is also the oldest American to live on the space station.

Williams was instrumental in preparing the station for the future arrival of US commercial crew spacecraft

Nasa statement