Three NASA astronauts and a European astronaut splashed down aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule off the coast of Florida after midnight Friday morning, capping off their six-month mission throughout which they labored alongside Russian cosmonauts and hosted the primary all-private crew to go to the orbiting outpost.
The crew of this mission, referred to as Crew-3, departed the ISS within the early hours of Thursday morning and spent greater than 20 hours free flying by means of orbit aboard the 13-foot-wide capsule earlier than it plunged again into the environment and parachuted to its water touchdown.
The 4 astronauts on the Crew-3 mission are NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as properly a German astronaut with the ESA, Matthias Maurer.
After the capsule made a secure touchdown, arising and down within the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, Chari advised mission management: “Thanks for letting us take [Crew Dragon] Endurance on a shakedown cruise.”
“Wanting ahead to watching many extra flights of Endurance sooner or later,” he stated, utilizing the “Endurance” title bestowed on Crew-3’s capsule. “That was an ideal journey. Loved working with the NASA and SpaceX workforce. Thanks for getting us to the house station and again safely.”
It will mark the conclusion of SpaceX’s third operational mission to the ISS that the corporate has carried out in partnership with NASA.
SpaceX has had a whirlwind month of exercise. It kicked off with the launch of the personal AX-1 mission to the ISS on April 8, and the corporate introduced that crew dwelling simply final week. Then SpaceX launched the Crew-4 astronauts, who will change the Crew-3 astronauts on the ISS employees, final Wednesday, then instantly started gearing up for Crew-3’s return. In the meantime, the corporate’s Falcon 9 rocket launched satellites to orbit, together with a batch of the corporate’s Starlink web satellites, simply final Friday.
SpaceX has already notched 17 launches thus far in 2022, making it the busiest first 5 months of the yr in SpaceX’s historical past. And extra are on the way in which, as two extra Starlink launches are scheduled throughout the subsequent 5 days. The primary of these took off Friday morning, simply 5 hours after the Crew-3 splashdown.
The intent of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon program was to return astronaut launches to america for the primary time since NASA’s Area Shuttle program retired in 2011, permitting NASA to maintain the house station totally staffed with its personal astronauts in addition to astronauts from associate house businesses such because the European Area Company (ESA). Earlier than the Crew Dragon entered service in 2020, NASA was relied on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for ISS crew transportation.