SpaceX astronauts have safely returned to earth following a 6-month mission on the International Space Station, landing off the coast of Florida on their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
SpaceX mission finally over
The four astronauts; Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Frenchman Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency, and Japanese Akihiko Hoshide, strapped into their capsule on Monday just after 2 pm ET, kickstarting their 9-hour journey back home, where they maneuvered through orbit slowly and entered the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Crew Dragon then deployed its parachutes and landed on the Gulf of Mexico at around 10 pm.
The quartet was brought to safety by a fleet of rescue ships awaiting their return, with Kimbrough being heard saying that it’s “great to be back on Earth”.
Their journey back home was not without its challenges, with the crew unable to use the bathroom due to a toilet issue on the Crew Dragon capsule; they had to use their undergarments instead during the flight home.
McArthur described the “undergarment” episode as being “suboptimal”, but she said that they were prepared to manage, with spaceflight being full of little challenges.
What was the mission about?
The four astronauts were tasked during their 6-month stay in space with overseeing a series of science experiments, including the testing of the first chile peppers to be grown in space.
The astronauts also conducted spacewalks in their spacesuits to conduct maintenance on the space station’s exterior; where they faced challenges such as a new Russian module misfiring and knocking the ISS out of position.
SpaceX and NASA partnership
The objective of NASA partnering with SpaceX was to make full use of the orbiting lab and also to ensure the International Space Station was fully staffed, with the latter being a cause of constant pressure for NASA over the last decade because the US didn’t have a spacecraft that could get their astronauts to orbit.
The US relied on their partnership with Russia and the Soyuz capsule to get their astronauts (from NASA) into space.
Crew-3, the next SpaceX launch, has had their scheduled launch delayed due to weather and a medical issue with one of the astronauts, with the rescheduled takeoff being planned as early as Wednesday.
Meanwhile, on earth, SpaceX founder Elon Musk took to Twitter to ask his followers if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stocks.