SpaceX Brings Home NASA Crew-2 Astronauts With Safe Water Landing

Four astronauts inside a capsule built by SpaceX crossed the Florida night sky like a meteor before descending in the Gulf of Mexico on ...


Four astronauts inside a capsule built by SpaceX crossed the Florida night sky like a meteor before descending in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday evening. The landing on the water capped off an eventful six-month stay on the International Space Station.

The space travelers were part of a mission called Crew-2: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA; Akihiko Hoshide from JAXA, the Japanese space agency; and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency.

“It’s great to be back on planet Earth,” said Mr. Kimbrough, commander of Crew-2, at SpaceX’s mission control from inside the capsule after four large parachutes flew into the air. calm waters near Pensacola, Florida. He and his fellow astronauts left the space station at 2:05 p.m. EST Monday afternoon, and returned to Earth at 10:33 p.m.

Two parachutes deployed as intended to slow the speed of the capsule, then four more replaced them, one of which remained creased for nearly a minute before inflating. All the falls eventually unfolded, plunging Crew Dragon into calm waters.

“The comeback looked flawless,” NASA chief of space operations Kathy Lueders said in remarks on the agency’s livestream. She said engineering teams would be looking at the only “slow” drop that did not immediately unfold, adding that it was “behavior that we have seen several times in other tests.”

The capsule, dubbed Endeavor, swayed in the ocean as recovery crews crowded in and lifted it onto a recovery ship. About an hour after the spacecraft landed, crews helped the smiling astronauts exit the capsule one by one and climb onto stretchers as they began to re-acclimate to Earth’s gravity.

The trip was the fourth safe return to Earth for Crew Dragon, a gumball-shaped astronaut capsule developed by SpaceX as a replacement for the Space Shuttle with approximately $ 3 billion in funding from NASA. The spacecraft is expected to save the agency money, as NASA no longer has to buy expensive seats for its astronauts on Russian Soyuz rockets.

The trip was not without difficulties. Last week, NASA ordered the crew not to use the capsule toilet for the duration of their stay on board. Engineers in the field first detected a leaking toilet tube in another SpaceX capsule in September. The malfunction was confined to a compartment inside the floor of the spacecraft and did not affect the cabin.

But NASA has said the space station’s Crew Dragon toilet is off-limits until it can be fixed. This meant that the crew had to either hold it or use astronaut-grade layers built into their flight suits in case of an emergency.

“Of course, it’s not optimal, but we’re prepared to handle this while we’re aboard Dragon on the way home,” said Dr. McArthur, the Crew-2 mission pilot, during the meeting. ‘a press conference on Friday.

The crew handled many other challenges and responsibilities during their time in orbit.

Shortly after Crew-2 launched in April, SpaceX mission control alerted them that a piece of space debris had been thrown from the capsule. The astronauts were ordered to put on their flight suits “immediately” and lower the visors of their helmets.

Nothing ever came close to the capsule, and the crew reached the space station safely on April 24.

A few days later, US Space Command, which tracks the objects in orbit, determined that the alert was the result of a “reporting error” and “that there had never been a threat of collision because there was no risk of any object colliding with the capsule “. Yet the incident has renewed discussion of the growing threat of space debris and other congestion in low Earth orbit.

In July, Russia launched a new science module to attach to the Russian segment of the space station. Just after its docking, the module, named Nauka, mistakenly fired a set of thrusters for about 15 minutes, spinning the football-sized lab one and a half turns before stopping upside down.

The crash sent mission control teams to Houston and Moscow scrambling to get the station back to its normal position. Crew-2 astronauts rushed into their Crew Dragon capsule in case they needed to escape.

“In case something really bad happened, we were ready to go undock, if necessary,” Kimbrough said at a press conference on Friday. “Of course not, thank goodness.”

A similar incident happened in october involving another Russian spacecraft attached to the space station, although it looked less serious than the first.

While Crew-2 and fellow space station occupants encountered dangers in orbit, they also went about their typical research and maintenance duties.

A component of their work even included playing: an evening of tacos spiced up with freshly harvested peppers. The peppers were leftovers from a study examining the cultivation of crops in space. Dr McArthur, who combined chilies with beef fajita, rehydrated tomatoes and artichokes, called them “the best tacos in space yet.”

The astronauts worked on hundreds of other scientific investigations during their six-month stay aboard the orbital laboratory, from ultrasound forceps, which use sound to move small objects, to explore growth of protein crystals in real time under the microscope as part of a study of new drugs that can treat diseases.

Crew-2 astronauts also witnessed the making of a feature film supported by the Russian space agency Roscosmos. A Russian actress and director launched towards the space station October 5 for a 12-day shoot aboard the station for their film “The Challenge”. The film is about a mission to save a sick astronaut, played by Oleg Novitsky, a real Russian astronaut from the station.

When the Crew-2 astronauts left on Monday, there was only one crew of three astronauts left on board the space station. That’s a small number for the orbital lab, which has had as many as 13 astronauts on board at a time, but typically has seven crew members on board these days. The last time the space station hosted just three astronauts was in April 2020.

Mark Vande Hei, a NASA astronaut, and two Russian astronauts, Anton Shkaplerov and Piotr Dubrovnik, will hold the fort for at least four days until four more astronauts from NASA and SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission arrive. Thursday at 7:10 p.m. EST. time. Their arrival was delayed by weather conditions as well as what NASA described as a “minor medical problem” with an astronaut, which it said was unrelated to Covid-19.

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Newsrust - US Top News: SpaceX Brings Home NASA Crew-2 Astronauts With Safe Water Landing
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