Blazing like a capturing star because it streaked excessive above northern Florida, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carried 4 house station fliers again to Earth early Monday, splashing down within the Atlantic Ocean east of Jacksonville to wrap up a six-month keep in orbit.
Crew-6 commander Stephen Bowen, pilot Woody Hoburg, cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev and UAE crewmate Sultan Alneyadi undocked from the station’s ahead Concord module at 7:05 a.m. EDT Sunday to kick off a 17-hour flight again to Earth.
The automated Crew Dragon executed a 16-minute de-orbit thruster firing beginning at 11:24 p.m., slowing the spacecraft by about 250 mph — simply sufficient to drop it again into the decrease ambiance for a steep southwest-to-northeast trajectory carrying it above Central America and north Florida.
Seen from the Kennedy House Heart, the returning spacecraft seemed like a slow-motion meteor blazing a protracted, good path throughout the sky because the Crew Dragon was enveloped in a cloud of super-heated plasma, slowing from orbital velocity of 17,100 mph to simply 300 mph or so in a matter of minutes.
With SpaceX restoration crews and NASA observers standing by, the capsule’s 4 important parachutes deployed on time, inflated and lowered the spacecraft to a delicate splashdown in gentle wind and five-foot waves off Florida’s east coast at 12:17 a.m.
“On behalf of NASA and SpaceX, welcome again house,” SpaceX radioed from the California rocket builder’s management heart. “Thanks for flying SpaceX.”
“We tremendously admire all of the help, from all of the preliminary coaching, to the launch, all through the mission … this has been unbelievable,” Bowen replied. “We definitely admire it and stay up for working with you all once more.”
SpaceX crews reached the Crew Dragon inside minutes of splashdown. After ensuring no propellant propellant vapors had been current, cables had been related and the spacecraft was hauled aboard the SpaceX restoration ship.
As ordinary with long-duration flights, restoration personnel carried Bowen and firm out of the Crew Dragon, one by one, and put them on rolling recliners to ease the preliminary rigors of readjusting to the unfamiliar tug of gravity.
Earlier than departing the house station, Bowen, a former submariner, stated he most seemed ahead to “the great ocean air and peaceable calm seas. That’ll be very nice to get again to.”
Hoburg stated he was wanting ahead to “an actual bathe.” Alneyadi stated he couldn’t wait to rejoin family and friends, together with having fun with “an actual sizzling cup of espresso.” As for Fedyaev, “I believe my dream is a mattress for good sleeping. I can lay on one aspect. One other aspect. My again. Sleeping!”
After preliminary medical checks aboard the restoration ship, all 4 fliers had been to be flown to shore by helicopter. A NASA jet was standing by in Jacksonville to hold them again to Houston and the Johnson House Heart for debriefing, extra detailed medical checks and reunions with family and friends.
Left behind in orbit had been three Soyuz crew members — station commander Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio — and 4 Crew Dragon fliers launched August 26 to exchange Bowen and firm: Crew-7 commander Jasmin Moghbeli, European House Company astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov.
Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio had been launched to the station final September and are wrapping up a marathon 371-day mission.
They initially deliberate to spend six months in house, however their Soyuz ferry ship was disabled by a significant coolant leak final December. The Russians opted to ship up a substitute spacecraft, and the crew’s mission was prolonged an extra six months.
A recent Soyuz crew — commander Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara — is scheduled for launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 15.
Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio will undock and return to Earth 12 days later. In so doing, Rubio will set a brand new U.S. document for the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut.
Launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on March 2, the Crew-6 fliers spent 185 days and 22 hours off planet, circling the globe 2,976 occasions whereas touring 78.9 million miles by means of house. At splashdown, Bowen, the one house veteran on the crew, had logged 227 days in house throughout 4 missions.
Over the course of their flight, the Crew-6 astronauts welcomed seven visiting autos, together with two unpiloted Cargo Dragon spacecraft, two Russian Progress provide ships, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo provider and two piloted Crew Dragons.
Additionally they carried out three spacewalks. Bowen an Hoburg ventured outdoors twice to put in new roll-out photo voltaic blankets and Alneyadi joined Bowen for a 3rd tour to retrieve a failed antenna bundle and to hold out different upkeep.
“It’s definitely been the expertise of a lifetime, and an actual honor to get to spend six months, six extremely short-feeling months, dwelling and dealing aboard this unbelievable orbiting outpost,” Hoburg stated earlier than departing the station. “I believe we received quite a bit executed.”