UK astronaut Tim Peake prepares for return to Earth

UK astronaut Tim Peake is preparing to return to Earth after an historic six-month mission to the space station.

During his stay, he made the first spacewalk by a UK astronaut, remotely steered a robot on Earth and ran the London Marathon.

A Soyuz capsule carrying Major Peake and two other crew members will land in Kazakhstan at 10:15 BST on Friday.

He is the first person to visit space under the UK banner since Helen Sharman in 1991.

Speaking in his last live link-up from space, Major Peake said: “It’s been a fantastic six months up here – [a] really remarkable, incredible experience.

“I’m looking forward to coming home, looking forward to seeing my friends and my family, but I am going to miss this place [the ISS].”

After 03:00 BST on Saturday, Major Peake, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and US astronaut Timothy Kopra will make their farewells and enter the Russian spacecraft that will carry them home from the ISS.

Squeezed into custom-moulded seats in a tiny return ship that hasn’t changed substantially in design since the Soviet era, the three crew members will wait for more than three hours before they are clear to undock from the outpost that has been their home for 186 days.

The Soyuz performs several engine burns to nudge itself clear of the space station and, after it has drifted about 12km from the orbiting platform, the engines fire again to begin the fiery descent to Earth.