The third long-duration astronaut team launched by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS) returned safely to Earth on Friday morning as part of orbital research ranging from space-grown peppers to robots in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida. Fell down to end the months.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying three American NASA astronauts and a European Space Agency (ESA) crew from Germany parachuted into the calm seas in the dark at the conclusion of more than 23 hours of autonomous flight home from the ISS.
Splashdown, performed live by a joint NASA-SpaceX webcast at approximately 12:45 a.m. EDT (0445 GMT).
endurance The crew, which began its stay in orbit on November 11, included American astronaut Tom Marshburn, 61, and three first-time astronauts – NASA’s Raja Chari, 44, and Kayla Barron, 34, and his ESA colleague Mathias Maurer. , 52.
Camera shots inside the crew compartment showed the astronauts strapped to their seats, wearing helmeted white and black spacesuits.
It took splashdown-response teams less than an hour to reach the capsule buoyed in the water, hoisted it onto the deck of a recovery vessel and opened the hatch to let the astronauts out for their first breath of fresh air in nearly six months. gave.
Return from orbit was followed by a fiery re-entry dip through Earth’s atmosphere that generated frictional heat that raised the temperature outside the capsule to 1,930 °C.
Two sets of parachutes were opened over the capsule in the final landing stage, slowing its fall to about 24 kilometers per hour before hitting the water off the coast of Tampa, Florida.
Applause was heard over a webcast from the SpaceX Flight Control Center in suburban Los Angeles, which showed infrared images of the capsule on its final descent.
The newly returned astronauts were officially designated as NASA’s “Commercial Crew 3,” the third full, long-duration team of four that SpaceX has sent to the space station under contract with the US space agency.
SpaceX, which was founded in 2002 by electric car maker Tesla Inc.’s billionaire CEO Elon Musk, who recently struck a deal to buy Twitter, supplies the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule that is now NASA’s space shuttle. Taking passengers into orbit from American soil.
The company also controls those flights and handles splashdown recovery, while NASA presents the Crew and Launch Facilities at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and manages U.S. Space Station operations.
Microgravity Cotton and Combustion
California-based SpaceX has launched seven manned spaceflights over the past two years — five for NASA and two for private enterprises — as well as dozens of cargo and satellite payload missions since 2012.
Crew 3 returned to Earth with approximately 250 kilograms of cargo, including a load of ISS research samples.
In addition to performing routine maintenance in orbit about 400 kilometers above Earth, the astronauts contributed to hundreds of science experiments and technology demonstrations.
Highlights included studies of genetic expression in cotton cells cultured in space, gaseous flame combustion in microgravity, and DNA sequences of bacteria inside the station. Crew members also tested new robotic equipment, harvested chili peppers grown in orbit, and conducted experiments in space physics and materials science.
Baron and Chari conducted a spacewalk to prepare the station for the second in a series of new lightweight roll-out solar arrays that will eventually be used at the planned Gateway outpost that will orbit the Moon.
Crew 3’s return comes nearly a week after welcoming its replacement team, Crew 4, to the space station. Oleg Artemyev, one of three Russian cosmonauts now living in the station, previously commanded the ISS from Marshburn in a handover endurance Departed early Thursday.