After five months on the International Space Station (ISS), a crew of astronauts has returned home, marking the end of their mission. The crew, which included astronauts from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and NASA, undocked from the ISS and departed for Earth. The journey back was expected to take around six hours, during which the crew would experience the intense heat of re-entry.
Dragon Endurance, which carried the four-person SpaceX crew, undocked from the ISS prior to the departure of the crew, but both vehicles are expected to land near the coast of Florida. This marks the first time a private spacecraft has carried a crew to and from the ISS, signaling a new era of space travel.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft, which was developed by SpaceX, was able to stay docked to the ISS for 199 days, exceeding its earlier record of 167 days. The successful return of the crew is a significant milestone for the commercial space industry, which has been working to develop spacecraft that can transport humans to space in a more cost-effective and reliable manner.
“Today we celebrate the successful completion of this historic mission, which marks a new era of spaceflight and exploration,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
The crew consisted of Commander Victor Glover Jr., Pilot Michael Hopkins, Mission Specialist Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, a Japanese astronaut who joined the crew in November 2020. They spent their time aboard the ISS conducting scientific experiments and performing maintenance tasks, among other duties.
Their return to Earth comes as NASA and other space agencies are looking to ramp up their operations in space, including exploring new destinations such as the Moon and Mars. The successful return of this crew is a testament to the hard work and dedication of those involved in the space industry, and a step closer to achieving these ambitious goals.