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Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end 5-month mission

Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end 5-month mission
The capsule of the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft, slowed by parachutes, approaches the surface of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico off Tampa, Fla., as it returns to Earth with Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) after a five-month mission in the International Space Station, on Saturday, March 11, 2023. Credit: Keegan Barber/NASA via AP

Four space station astronauts returned to Earth late Saturday after a quick SpaceX flight home.

Their capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida coast near Tampa.

The U.S.-Russian-Japanese crew spent five months at the International Space Station, arriving last October. Besides dodging , the astronauts had to deal with a pair of leaking Russian capsules docked to the orbiting outpost and the urgent delivery of a replacement craft for the station's other .

Led by NASA's Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to fly in space, the astronauts checked out of the station early Saturday morning. Less than 19 hours later, their Dragon capsule was bobbing in the sea as they awaited pickup.

Earlier in the week, and waves in the splashdown zones kept them at the station a few extra days. Their replacements arrived more than a week ago.

"That was one heck of a ride," Mann radioed moments after splashdown. "We're happy to be home."

Mann, a member of Northern California's Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, said she couldn't wait to feel the wind on her face, smell fresh grass and enjoy some delicious Earth food.

  • Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end 5-month mission
    The SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft is seen as it lands with NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina onboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, Fla, Saturday, March 11, 2023. The group are returning after a five-month mission in the International Space Station. Credit: Keegan Barber/NASA via AP
  • Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end 5-month mission
    In this image from video made available by NASA, a SpaceX capsule, slowed by parachutes, approaches the surface of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico off Tampa, Fla., as it returns to Earth with Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) after a five-month mission in the International Space Station, on Saturday, March 11, 2023. Credit: NASA via AP
  • Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end 5-month mission
    SpaceX astronauts, from row from left, Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann, second row from left, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata leave the Operations and Checkout building before heading to Launch Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., for a mission to the International Space Station Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. The four are scheduled to return to Earth on Sunday, March 12, 2023, after five months on the International Space Station. Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux, File
  • Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end 5-month mission
    In this photo made available by NASA, clockwise from left, Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) gather for a portrait inside the International Space Station's Kibo laboratory module on March 1, 2023. The four are scheduled to return to Earth on Sunday, March 12 after five months on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA via AP

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata craved sushi, while Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina yearned to drink hot tea "from real cup, not from plastic bag."

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada's to-do list included getting a rescue dog for his family. "Please don't tell our two cats," he joked before departing the .

Remaining behind at the space station are three Americans, three Russians and one from the United Arab Emirates.

Wakata, Japan's spaceflight champion, now has logged more than 500 days in space over five missions dating back to NASA's shuttle era.

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Citation: Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end 5-month mission (2023, March 12) retrieved 12 June 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-astronauts-fly-spacex-home-month.html
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