Four astronauts from the International Space Station returned to Earth on Sunday in a “SpaceX” vehicle, after spending more than 160 days in space.
The capsule that carried them landed at 2.56 am local time in the Gulf of Mexico (0656 GMT) off Panama City, Florida (southeast of the United States) after a flight from the International Space Station that lasted six and a half hours, according to the scenes broadcast. A NASA high altitude search device.
Boats took over the capsule and the returning astronauts. And “NASA” reported that the four pioneers, three Americans and a Japanese, confirmed that they were in good health.
“We have trained to retrieve the crews day and night,” Steve Stitch, director of the NASA Commercial Aviation Program, made a reassuring statement shortly before the capsule was launched.
“The boats are equipped with a lot of lighting,” in addition to “moonlight,” he added, adding that the weather conditions are excellent at the moment and the sea is calm.
The Americans, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japanese Soishi Noguchi last November were the first astronauts on a “operational” mission to be transported to the International Space Station by the company founded by Elon Musk, which has established itself as a key partner for NASA.
Seven astronauts are still on the International Space Station.
“Thank you for your hospitality, (…) we will meet on Earth,” Michael Hopkins, one of the four astronauts, told his colleagues who remained at the station.
Previously, “Dragon” transferred to the station two other American pioneers back and forth in 2020 for a two-month test mission. It was the first flight to the International Space Station to set off from the United States since the space shuttles stopped in 2011, and the first to be operated by a private company that includes astronauts.
And “NASA” indicated that “Dragon” also carries “scientific freezers filled with research samples” carried out in conditions of zero gravity.
The departure of the quadruple crew, called “Crew 1”, comes days after the arrival of the “Crew 2” mission, which was transported by “Space X” to the station last week, and includes four astronauts, who are Frenchman Thomas Pescet from the European Space Agency, and the Americans Shane Kimbro and Megan Mac Arthur and Japanese Akihiko Hoshide.
– ‘Time flew by’ –
Shannon Walker handed command of the International Space Station to one of the four astronauts from “Crowe 2” Tuesday in a symbolic ceremony. “I will cherish these moments forever,” she said on the occasion.
Crow 1 members spent a total of 168 days in space. Victor Glover commented, “Time flew by.”
Michael Hopkins said, “We are all, as you can imagine, very excited about this landing in the sea as it will allow us to return to our families.” He added, “We are very happy with this mission. I think we are all looking forward to returning home as well.”
It was originally scheduled for the four astronauts to leave the International Space Station on Wednesday, then the date was postponed to Friday, and the reason for the delay was every time the expected weather conditions in the landing area.
“NASA” and “Space X” are coordinating closely with the US Coast Guard forces “to establish a safety zone of ten nautical miles around the landing site to ensure the safety of the public” and those responsible for meeting astronauts at sea, the US space agency said in a statement.
In addition to the four astronauts who recently arrived at the International Space Station, there is still another American and Russian astronaut who arrived in it in a “Soyuz” rocket. Thus, before leaving Crowe 1, there were at least 11 astronauts on the station.
© 2021 AFP