SpaceX successfully repatriated four astronauts from the International Space Station
The four astronauts successfully returned home to Earth from the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft today, ending their six-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS). After being unloaded from the ISS on Thursday morning, at 12:43 AM ET, the crew flew like a dove through the Earth’s atmosphere before splashing under a parachute off the coast of Florida.
The crew dragon had three NASA astronauts – Tom Marshburn, King Chari and Kayla Baron – as well as German astronaut Matthias Maurer with the European Space Agency. The astronaut, part of a mission called Crew-3, was launched into space in November in the same Crew Dragon. Since being docked with the ISS, he has lived and worked in the rotation lab, doing science experiments and maintaining the station via spacewalk.
The Crew-3 astronauts also had an occasional stay in space. Shortly after it landed on the ISS, Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based missile, initially threatening the integrity of the space station. Immediately after the destruction of the satellite, the crew-3 astronauts on the ISS and the Russian astronauts had to take refuge in their spacecraft as the resulting cloud damaged the space station and they had to be rescued early. Fortunately for the station’s residents, the pile did not harm the ISS and the crew was able to return to normal work schedules.
A few months after that incident, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raised tensions between the United States and Russia on Earth. This raised questions about the stability of the ISS partnership between NASA and Russia’s state space agency, Roscosmos, and could affect operations on the space station. Finally the Crew-3 astronauts continued their work as planned with their Russian counterparts and they welcomed the new crew of Russian astronauts to the station in March. The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, hinted at a possible termination of Russia’s ISS deal, while NASA Administrator Bill Nelson assured Congress on May 3 that business on the ISS was continuing as usual and that Russia had not yet pulled out. Partnership
The safe return of Crew-3 marks the end of the second regular manned spaceflight in the ISS for both SpaceX and NASA. SpaceX has entered into an agreement with NASA to send astronauts to the International Space Station from time to time as part of an initiative called the Commercial Crew Program. Crew-3 was SpaceX’s third operational mission in the ISS for NASA, as well as the company’s eighth launch of astronauts into space.
Now that Crew-3 has returned safely to Earth, the next mission of SpaceX and NASA will begin in earnest. On April 27, an Italian astronaut, along with three NASA astronauts and the European Space Agency, launched a second crew dragon on the ISS as part of SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission. Crew-3 astronauts were on board to greet them and help them get acquainted with the ISS. Crew-4 astronauts will remain on the ISS until the fall.