The US space agency NASA praised their Russian counterparts for one of the most pinpoint accurate landings of a Soyuz spacecraft.
After a three hour descent from the International Space Station, the capsule touched down on the steppes of the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan on time and on target, north of the town of Arkalyk.
Inside were two Russian cosmonauts, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanshin, and the veteran American astronaut Daniel Burbank, who had all spent nearly six months on the ISS.
Support personnel wrapped the men in blankets despite temperatures of 21 degrees before medical staff gave them a once-over.
Their trip to the space station was the first since NASA retired its 30 year shuttle programme, leaving Russian craft the sole means of ferrying crew and supplies.
The mission was delayed by safety fears when an unmanned Russian craft broke up last August.
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