Four space station astronauts returned to Earth late Saturday after a quick SpaceX flight home.
Their capsule crashed into the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Florida near Tampa.
The US-Russia-Japan crew spent five months on the International Space Station, arriving last October. In addition to avoiding space junk, the astronauts had to deal with a pair of Russian capsules that leaked into the orbital outpost and the urgent delivery of a replacement craft for the other members of the station’s crew.
Led by NASA’s Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to fly in space, the astronauts left the station early Saturday morning. Less than 19 hours later, their Dragon capsule exploded into the sea as they awaited pickup.
Earlier in the week, strong wind and waves in the collapse zones kept them on station for a few extra days. Their replacements arrived more than a week ago.
“It was a good ride,” Mann said moments after the splashdown. “We’re glad to be home.”
Mann, a member of Northern California’s Wailacki Indian Tribes of the Round Valley, said she was looking forward to feeling the wind on her face, smelling fresh grass and enjoying delicious earthy foods.
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata craved sushi, while Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina longed to drink hot tea “from a real cup, not a 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 space station.
Back on the space station remain three Americans, three Russians and one from the United Arab Emirates.
Wakata, Japan’s spaceflight champion, has now logged more than 500 days in space on five missions dating back to NASA’s shuttle era.
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Reference: Four astronauts fly SpaceX back home, end of 5-month mission (2023, March 12) Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-astronauts-fly-spacex-home-month. html
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