The SpaceX spacecraft returns to Earth with four astronauts from the International Space Station

The SpaceX spacecraft returns to Earth with four astronauts from the International Space Station

The landing completes a mission in space of more than 160 days for these four astronauts.

A SpaceX spacecraft brought four astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) to Earth on Sunday after 160 days of space mission.

Their capsule landed at 2:56 a.m. (8:56 a.m. in France), in the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City, Florida (southeastern United States), after a six-hour flight. According to infrared images transmitted by a high-altitude NASA search device, ISS

Boats were halted to retrieve the capsule and the astronauts. A team of three Americans and a Japanese man are in good health, according to the US space agency. It returned to NASA on the first night after the Apollo 8 crew landed in the Pacific Ocean on December 27, 1968.

“We trained to rescue crews day and night,” explained Steve Stitch, NASA’s commercial aviation project manager, who was interviewed shortly before the capsule took off. “There are a lot of lights on the boats”, and we have “moonlight”, describing the best weather conditions, with calm seas.

Commander Michael Hopkins first appeared after the hatch was opened, followed by a small dance step as he entered the deck, followed by his comrade Victor Clover.

“It’s amazing what people can do when they’re together.”

“On behalf of the Crew-1 crew and our families, we would like to thank (..) what people can do when they are together. You are changing the world. Congratulations. It’s great to be back,” he said in a NASA tweet.

American Shannon Walker and Japanese Sochi Nokuchi were also on the return capsule. All four crew members were the first astronauts on the “operational” mission to be carried to ISS by Elon Musk’s space agency, which has established itself as an essential partner of NASA.

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NASA says the four astronauts will undergo medical tests and then be flown by helicopter to Benzacola, from where they will board a flight to Houston to reunite with friends and family. Seven astronauts are still on the ISS.

SpaceX was the first regular mission to be brought to Earth

Two more Americans have already sailed on the Dragon in 2020. After the completion of the space shuttle in 2011, the ASS was launched from the United States. It was the first aircraft to be launched to and operated by a private company with astronauts. This method is the first regular mission to be brought to Earth by SpaceX.

For the final “splash”, the astronauts were on the same Dragon spacecraft, which they called “Recession”, which carried them into orbit, and SpaceX plans to use them again for other missions after the restoration.

The dragon also carries “research sample-filled science freezer” boards carried out at zero gravity, NASA said.

The departure of the crew, Crew-1, was completed in recent days by French astronaut Thomas Basquet and who has the baton on the second regular voyage made by the American company (Crew-2) aboard the ISS last week.

“It passed quickly”

Shannon Walker handed over the command of the ISS to a Crew-2 astronaut on Tuesday at a coding ceremony. “I will cherish these moments forever,” he said. In total, Crew-1 would have spent 168 days in space.

“Time flies, it went fast,” Victor Glover determined.

“We are all, as you can imagine, very excited about this water landing, and we’ll be back to our families for what it allows,” Michael Hopkins said. “We are very happy with this work and I think we are all looking forward to going home.”

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Their departure from ISS was originally scheduled for Wednesday and then Friday, but had to be postponed each time due to bad weather expected in the landing zone.

NASA and SpaceX have teamed up with the U.S. Coast Guard to establish a 10 nautical-mile safety zone around the landing site and ensure the safety of the public, and those responsible for rescuing the astronauts, a statement said.

When two astronauts returned from test work in August 2020, the pleasure boats came very close to where the capsule had landed and had to be removed.

In addition to the four astronauts of the Crew-2, another American astronaut and two Russians who arrived on a Soyuz rocket were killed by ISS. Before the departure of Crew-1, the space station was packed with less than 11 people.

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