See the first photos of an exhausted but smiling Tim Peake after re-entering Earth

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British astronaut Tim Peake has made a dramatic return to Earth after six months on the International Space Station (ISS), describing it as "the best ride I've been on ever".

His space capsule parachuted down on to a remote patch of the vast Kazakhstan steppe to land on a cushion of fire from its retro rockets at 10.15am UK time.

Soyuz TMA-19M capsule carrying Nasa's Tim Kopra, Tim Peake of the European Space Agency and Russian agency Roscosmos' Yuri Malenchenko.
(Shamil Zhumatov/AP)

A gust of wind rolled the tiny craft, measuring just over six feet across, on its side before the arrival of the recovery team, but all three crew members were said to be in good shape.

Soyuz TMA N-19 spacecraft landing.
(Bill Ingalls/Nasa)

One by one they were lifted out of the capsule, charred by the heat of re-entry, and placed in comfortable chairs.

Search and rescue team members roll the Soyuz TMA-19M capsule carrying NASA's Tim Kopra, Tim Peake of the European Space Agency and Russian agency Roscosmos' Yuri Malenchenko.
(Shamil Zhumatov/AP)

Peake, travelling with American Nasa astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, was the second to leave the capsule.

Tim Peake, Russia's Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra of US after landing in Kazakhstan.
(Shamil Zhumatov/AP)

Looking exhausted at first, with his eyes closed, he then smiled broadly and gave a thumbs up to TV crews who had travelled to the landing site.

Tim Peake gestures shortly after landing near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
(Shamil Zhumatov/AP)

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."

Tim Peake being carried to a medical tent.
(Bill Ingalls/Nasa)

After speaking to the media and his family on the phone, Peake and his crew members were carried away to the helicopter travel to to Karaganda airport where, according to tradition, they will be offered bread and salt and a traditional Kazakh hat.

Tim Peake shortly after landing near the town of Dzhezkazgan.
(Shamil Zhumatov/AP)

Peake will then be flown to the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, while his US and Russian colleagues go to Houston and Star City, near Moscow.