Astronauts return to Earth in SpaceX capsule after six-month mission

They parachuted into the Atlantic off the Florida coast on Monday. Credit: NASA via AP

Four astronauts have returned to Earth after a six-month stay at the International Space Station.

Their capsule, operated by Elon Musk's SpaceX, parachuted into the Atlantic off the Florida coast early on Monday.

Returning were NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Russia's Andrei Fedyaev and the United Arab Emirates' Sultan al-Neyadi, the first person from the Arab world to spend an extended time in orbit.

Before departing the space station, they said they were craving hot showers, steaming cups of coffee and the ocean air since arriving in March.

Support teams work around the capsule shortly after it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: NASA via AP

Their homecoming was delayed a day because of poor weather at the splashdown locations, but in the end, provided a spectacular middle-of-the-night show as the capsule streaked through the sky over Cape Canaveral.

The astronauts said it was incredible to be back.

"You've got a roomful of happy people here," SpaceX Mission Control radioed.

A SpaceX capsule, slowed by parachutes, splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. Credit: AP via NASA

Another crew switch will occur later this month with the long-awaited homecoming of two Russians and one American who have been up there an entire year.

Their stay was doubled after their Soyuz capsule leaked all of its coolant and a new craft had to be launched.

Between crew swaps, the space station is home to seven astronauts.

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