Four astronauts successfully returned to Earth today in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, completing their six-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS). After undocking from the ISS early Thursday morning, the crew dove through Earth’s atmosphere before landing under parachutes off the coast of Florida at 12:43 a.m. ET.
On board the Crew Dragon were three NASA astronauts – Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron – as well as German astronaut Matthias Maurer from the European Space Agency. The astronauts, part of a mission called Crew-3, launched into space on the same Crew Dragon in November. Since docking with the ISS, they have lived and worked in the orbiting laboratory, conducting scientific experiments and maintaining the station through spacewalks.
The Crew 3 astronauts also had quite an eventful stay in space. Shortly after their arrival on the ISS, Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-launched missile, creating a debris cloud that initially threatened the integrity of the space station. Immediately after the satellite’s destruction, the Crew-3 astronauts and Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS had to take shelter in their spacecraft in case the resulting debris damaged the space station and they had to escape quickly. Luckily for station residents, the debris did not harm the ISS, and the crew was able to return to a normal work schedule.
Then, a few months after this incident, Russia invaded Ukraine, increasing tensions between the United States and Russia on Earth. This led many to question the stability of the ISS partnership between NASA and Russia’s state space company Roscosmos, and there were concerns that operations aboard the space station could be affected. Ultimately, the Crew 3 astronauts continued their work alongside their Russian colleagues as planned, even welcoming a new crew of Russian cosmonauts to the station in March. While Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin continues to hint at a possible end to Russia’s ISS deal, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson assured Congress on 3 May of the partnership.
The safe return of Crew-3 marks the end of another routine manned space mission to the ISS for both SpaceX and NASA. SpaceX has a contract with NASA to regularly send astronauts to and from the International Space Station, part of an initiative called the Commercial Crew Program. Crew-3 was SpaceX’s third operational mission to the ISS for NASA, and the eighth time the company has launched astronauts.
Now that Crew-3 is safely back on Earth, SpaceX and NASA’s next mission will begin in earnest. On April 27, three NASA astronauts and an Italian astronaut from the European Space Agency launched another Crew Dragon, part of SpaceX’s Crew 4 mission, to the ISS. The Crew 3 astronauts were on board to greet them and introduce them to the ISS. The Crew 4 astronauts are scheduled to remain on the ISS until the fall.
https://www.theverge.com/2022/5/6/23055274/spacex-crew-3-return-iss-nasa-crew-dragon SpaceX successfully brings back four astronauts from the International Space Station