SpaceX’s wildly busy year continues with astronaut splashdown

New York
CNN Business

Three NASA astronauts and one European astronaut landed aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule off the Florida coast after midnight Friday morning, capping their six-month mission during which they worked alongside Russian cosmonauts. and they played host to the first entirely private crew to visit the orbital outpost.

The crew for this mission, called Crew-3, departed the ISS in the early hours of Thursday morning and spent more than 20 hours flying freely through orbit aboard the 13-foot-wide capsule before returning to plunge into the atmosphere and parachute to your destination. water landing.

The four astronauts on the Crew-3 mission are NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, as well as a German ESA astronaut, Matthias Maurer.

After the capsule made a safe landing, bobbing up and down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, Chari told mission control, “Thank you for allowing us to take [Crew Dragon] Resistance in a test cruise”.

“I hope to see many more Endurance flights in the future,” he said, using the “Endurance” name given to the Crew-3 capsule. “That was a great trip. I enjoyed working with the NASA and SpaceX team. Thank you for getting us to the space station and back safely.”

This will mark the conclusion of SpaceX’s third operational mission to the ISS that the company has conducted in partnership with NASA.

SpaceX has had a dizzying month of activity. It started with the launch of the private AX-1 mission to the ISS on April 8, and the company brought that crew home last week. SpaceX then launched the Crew-4 astronauts, who will replace the Crew-3 astronauts on the ISS staff, last Wednesday, and immediately began preparing for the return of Crew-3. Meanwhile, the company’s Falcon 9 rocket launched satellites into orbit, including a batch of the company’s Starlink internet satellites, last Friday.

SpaceX has already made 17 launches so far in 2022, making them the busiest first five months of the year in SpaceX history. And more are on the way, with two more Starlink launches scheduled within the next five days. The first of these took off on Friday morning, just five hours after Crew-3 splashed down.

The intent of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon program was to return astronaut launches to the United States for the first time since NASA’s space shuttle program retired in 2011, allowing NASA to keep the space station fully equipped with its own astronauts and astronauts from partner space agencies. such as the European Space Agency (ESA). Before Crew Dragon entered service in 2020, NASA relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for crew transport to the ISS.

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