Wednesday, December 8, 2021

SpaceX returns four astronauts to Earth, completing 200-day flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – Four astronauts returned to Earth on Monday, heading home from SpaceX to complete a 200-day space station mission that began last spring.

Their capsule swept across the night sky like a blinding meteor before parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Rescue boats quickly approached with searchlights.

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“On behalf of SpaceX, welcome home to planet Earth,” the SpaceX Mission Control Center in Southern California reported over the radio. Within an hour, all four astronauts left the capsule, exchanging fist blows with the crew of the rescue ship.

Their homecoming, just eight hours after leaving the International Space Station, paved the way for SpaceX to launch four replacement rockets on Wednesday night.

The rookies were slated to launch first, but NASA changed the order due to bad weather and the astronaut’s undisclosed health status. The welcoming duties now fall on the lone American and the two Russians left behind on the space station.

Before undocking on Monday afternoon, German astronaut Mathias Maurer, who is awaiting the launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, tweeted that it’s a shame the two teams don’t cross at the space station, but “we hope you leave everything in order and order. ” It will be SpaceX’s fourth flight for NASA in just a year and a half.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan MacArthur, Akihiko Hoshide from Japan and Thomas Pesce from France were scheduled to return Monday morning, but strong winds in the recovery zone delayed their return.

“Another night with this magical view. Who could have complained? I will miss our spaceship! Sands tweeted on Sunday along with a short video showing the space station lit up against the darkness of space and the twinkling city lights on the night side of the Earth.

From the space station, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hey – halfway through a year-long flight – said goodbye to each of his departing friends, telling MacArthur, “I will miss your laugh in the neighboring modules.”

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Before leaving the area, all four flew around the space station, taking pictures. This was a first for SpaceX; NASA shuttles have been doing this all the way until they retired ten years ago. The last flyby of the Russian capsule was three years ago.

It was not the most comfortable ride back. The toilet in their capsule was broken and the astronauts had to rely on diapers during the eight-hour journey home. At the end of last week, they ignored this as another problem in their mission.

The first problem arose shortly after their April launch; Mission Control has warned that a piece of space debris is threatening to collide with their capsule. It turned out to be a false alarm. Then, in July, the engines of the newly arrived Russian laboratory inadvertently fired and the station began to spin. The four astronauts took refuge in a docked SpaceX capsule, ready to hurry off if necessary.

Highlights include four spacewalks to boost the station’s solar energy, a visit to a filming of a Russian film crew, and the first ever harvesting of Chilean pepper in space.

The next team will also spend six months there, meeting groups of tourists. The Japanese tycoon and his personal assistant will be flown in from the Russian Space Agency in December, and three businessmen will arrive via SpaceX in February. SpaceX’s first private flight in September passed the space station.

NASA’s Katie Luders, head of space operations, said engineers would estimate the lagged inflation rate of one of the four main parachutes, as seen in tests when the lines close together. Overall, however, “the comeback looked flawless.”

“I can’t tell you how delighted I am to see all four crew members on Earth,” she added, “and look forward to launching another set of four this week.”

Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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