WASHINGTON, D.C. — After completing nearly six months on the International Space Station, a Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on May 6, bringing four astronauts back to the Earth.
Time Of Arrival Of The Crew
After a normal re-entry, the Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance splashed down off the coast of Tampa, Florida, at 12:43 a.m. Eastern. A half-hour later, recovery personnel loaded the spacecraft onto a boat.
Read more: NASA will cover SpaceX Crew-3 briefings, activities, and broadcasts
Procedure Of The Return Of The Spacecraft
The spacecraft undocked from the ISS about 24 hours ago, carrying NASA’s Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer. Last November, the four arrived at the station on that spacecraft.
“It’s great to be back.” “Thank you for allowing us to take Endurance for a shakedown trip,” Crew-3 commander Chari remarked shortly after splashdown. “It was a fantastic journey.”
Read: NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Mission Near to End, Astronauts Excited to Return Home
What Happened During The Return Journey To The Earth?
Bill Gerstenmaier, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, said the Crew-3 astronauts spotted a small piece of debris floating away from the spacecraft after its May 5 docking during a post-splashdown briefing.
The fragment appears to be part of a frangible nut that held a tension rod that joined the spacecraft’s trunk to the Falcon 9 rocket during launch, according to photos. The debris posed no threat to the ship or the International Space Station.
Did The Obstacle Pose Any Threat To The Spacecraft Or The ISS
The nut was supposed to be caught in a hole in the trunk, but it wiggled free, he added. “It’s not something we want to happen.” He said, “We’ll figure out the best method to keep that from happening.” “We’ll look for a different design.”
The splashdown caps a busy month for SpaceX in human spaceflight. On April 8, Axiom Space launched the Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour on the commercial Ax-1 mission. The spacecraft docked with the International Space Station a day later, and its four private astronauts spent 15 days there until undocking on April 24 and splashing down off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on April 25.
What Will be The Next Crew Mission to the ISS?
Freedom, another Dragon Crew
spacecraft, launched from the Kennedy Space Center on the Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station less than 39 hours after the splashdown. After a 16-hour flight, it arrived at the station, carrying NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
They will stay aboard the station until the Crew-5 mission, which is scheduled to launch in September on the same Endurance spacecraft that returned Crew-3, relieves them.
At the post-splashdown briefing, NASA associate administrator for space operations Kathy Lueders stated, of the current pace of operations, “It’s unprecedented for us.” She stated that the NASA and SpaceX teams were “considering” the size of their crews and the amount of work they were undertaking. “All you have to do now is take one step at a time.”
“I believe this is an exciting time to be in space,” Gerstenmaier said, noting that SpaceX was preparing for a Falcon 9 launch of Starlink satellites from the Kennedy Space Center at 5:42 a.m. Eastern time. “I believe we are well positioned as a corporation to support these many activities.” Lueders remarked.
“Perhaps we should all take a few days off,”