SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, carrying four crew members returning from the International Space Station, crossed the atmosphere above Florida early Monday morning and landed in the Atlantic Ocean, marking the company’s first commercial crew contract with NASA. finished.
However, SpaceX plans at least eight more space station crew rotation missions under a contract with the U.S. Space Agency, plus additional flights for private customers using the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The first of the crew rotation missions covered by NASA’s contract extension launched on August 26, and the spacecraft is currently docked with the ISS.
The mission, which launched last month and is dubbed Crew-7, will be SpaceX’s seventh operational crew rotation flight to the space station. The four crew members who arrived at the station on Crew-7 will live and work at the orbiting outpost until February, replacing Crew-6’s mission, which returned to Earth early Monday morning.
Complete 186-day orbit
Crew 6’s return was delayed several days after Hurricane Idalia shook violently near the SpaceX landing zone near Florida. But as the weather improved and the seas calmed enough for NASA and SpaceX officials to give the go-ahead to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, effort The spacecraft will leave the space station on Sunday morning.
After retreating from the space station, the Dragon spacecraft and its four-man crew geared up for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday night. The 13-foot (4-meter) wide capsule will fire a braking rocket, close its nosecone, then drop into the atmosphere, trailing a trail of plasma across the sky, creating a spectacular midnight sky show over Florida. showed. .
At 12:17 a.m. EDT (4:17 a.m. UTC) Monday, four primary parachutes were deployed northeast of Jacksonville to slow the ship for a water landing, where the SpaceX recovery vessel was expected to enter space. The ship was pulled from the sea and the four crew members were evacuated from their seats.
According to NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stitch, the Dragon capsule dropped into the ocean five feet high, with waves higher than any previous SpaceX crew return, but still within safe limits. It is said that
“We could see the swell and the crew did really well in those areas,” Stich said. “The wind was about 5 knots when we landed, so it was a very calm landing for the crew.”
NASA Commander Steve Bowen, pilot Woody Horberg, United Arab Emirates mission specialist Sultan Arneyadi and Russia’s Andrei Fejayev have been on board since launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in March. After 186 days in orbit, it appeared to be in good shape. The crew had undergone medical checks and was scheduled to return to the training base in Houston on a NASA jet.
“It was a nominal return,” said Benji Reed, SpaceX’s manned spaceflight program director. “The dragon is healthy, the parachute is working as expected and our recovery team did a great job.
During the six-month expedition, Bowen and crew undertook numerous scientific experiments and performed three spacewalks to help install a new rollout solar array outside the space station. Combining this mission and his previous three Space Shuttle flights, Bowen’s total time spent on spacewalks was 65 hours and 57 minutes, the third-highest of all time.
Horberg shared his space station experience on social media and created an insightful video showing everyday life on the International Space Station. His videos covered topics such as orbital reboot experiences, training with the station’s robotic arm, and exercising in microgravity.
— Woody Horberg (@Astro_Woody) July 27, 2023
“I wanted to do something that I wanted to be real in this moment without too much preparation, just to show some of the great work we can do here,” Hoburg said. said last month. “So if I had a few minutes left and wanted to do something a little bit funnier, I wanted to pull out my camera and hopefully share it with everyone.”
Alneyadi became the first Arab astronaut to fly a long-duration mission in space, a leap forward for the UAE’s burgeoning space program. Fejaev became the second Russian astronaut to travel to and from the space station with SpaceX as part of an agreement between NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
A SpaceX recovery team will carry Crew Dragon after it lands in the water on Monday. effort The spacecraft returned to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for refurbishment prior to its fifth flight to the space station on its next mission by NASA crews in February. Meanwhile, another crew rotation is underway at the International Space Station later this month, with the launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on Sept. 15, sending two Russian astronauts and a NASA cosmonaut to the space station. It will be transported to the orbiting laboratory and will be put together on behalf of the three-person crew. 1 year in orbit.