SpaceX

Astronauts Splash Down Off Florida In SpaceX Capsule

TAMPA, Florida – After 157 days in space, four astronauts splashed down in a SpaceX Dragon capsule off the coast of Tampa, Florida at 9:02 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 11.

Teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels retrieved the spacecraft and spacefarers in the Gulf of Mexico. After returning to shore, the crew will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The Crew-5 mission lifted off at 12 p.m. EDT Oct. 5, 2022, on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. About 17 hours later, Dragon docked to the Harmony module’s forward-facing port. The crew undocked from the same port at 2:20 a.m. Saturday, to begin the trip home.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina,  spent 156.5 days aboard the space station and completed 2512 orbits around Earth.

This was the second flight of the Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance by the Crew-3 astronauts on its maiden voyage. Endurance will return to Cape Canaveral, Florida for inspection and processing at SpaceX’s Dragon Lair, where teams will inspect the spacecraft, analyze data on its performance, and process it for its next flight.

Throughout their mission, the Crew-5 team contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities and technology demonstrations. Cassada joined NASA astronaut Frank Rubio to conduct three spacewalks, preparing the station for and installing two new iROSAs, or International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays. Mann and Wakata teamed up for two spacewalks, also outfitting the orbiting laboratory for solar array augmentation.

During their time on station, the crew members also tested hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants without using soil, released Uganda and Zimbabwe’s first satellites, studied how liquids move in a container in simulated lunar gravity to generate data to improve Moon rover designs, and tested an on-demand system to produce specific quantities of key nutrients from yogurt, kefir, and a yeast-based beverage. The astronauts grew dwarf tomatoes in efforts to address the need for a continuous fresh-food production capability in space and reinstalled the station’s bioprinting facility as a stepping stone in long-term plans to manufacture whole human organs in space.

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