Two NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut veteran and a Russian cosmonaut said goodbye to their seven space station crew members and returned to Earth Saturday night, floating in the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa, Florida, after a fiery descent back through the lower atmosphere.

Hurling through space at 84 football fields per second — 17,100 miles per hour — Commander Nicole Mann and Pilot Josh Casado oversaw an automated 11-minute launch of the craft’s brake rockets starting at 8:11 p.m. EST, sending the capsule on course for re-entry. bay

Twenty-eight minutes later, the SpaceX Crew Dragon plunged back into the visible atmosphere, its heat shield withstanding temperatures of up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, as the vehicle rapidly decelerated in a brilliant fireball of atmospheric friction; a trail of fire like a meteor extending behind.

The Crew-5 Dragon Endurance went down a few hundred yards from the SpaceX crews after a fiery descent visible for hundreds of miles around. The splashdown near Tampa, Florida, ended the space station’s 157-day, 10-hour mission since launch last October.


The capsule’s main parachutes deployed and inflated at about 6,500 feet, slowing the capsule to a leisurely 16 mph during the final three and a half minutes of flight. Splashdown arrived right on time at 9:02 PM EST.

“Dragon Endurance, on behalf of SpaceX, welcome home,” SpaceX mission control communicator Michael Blasko radioed.

“Thanks SpaceX, it was one heck of a ride!” replied Mann, a veteran F-18 pilot. “We are happy to be home, we look forward to the next time.”

A camera on SpaceX’s Shannon escape craft captures dramatic footage of the Crew Dragon capsule burning from atmospheric friction as it descends to a splash.


SpaceX crews located nearby quickly converged on the spacecraft to “secure” it and transfer it aboard the company’s evacuation craft. Once on deck, the hatch was opened, and Mana, Kasadu, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakatu, and astronaut Hanna Kikin were each helped out and placed on a stretcher to ease their adaptation to gravity.

After an initial medical examination, they will be flown ashore by helicopter and then helped aboard a NASA aircraft to return to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to be debriefed and reunited with family and friends.

Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina is helped out of the Crew Dragon spacecraft as she begins to adjust to gravity after more than five months in space.


“Before we started, our flight director referred to Expedition 68 as ‘Iron Man,'” Casada said during last week’s departure. “And that was before the universe started throwing curveballs our way. And then it all went crazy.”

“While we’ve been here, we’ve done six spacewalks, installed two solar arrays, built the infrastructure for two more solar arrays, and repaired an old broken one,” Casada continued. “We had five trucks (visit) with all the science and equipment that (supports) hundreds of experiments and thousands of researchers around the planet.”

He added: “We just want to say thank you and we hope we’ve made you proud. If we didn’t, don’t tell us until we get home!”

Crew-6 commander Stephen Bowen, pilot Woody Hoburg, cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, as well as Soyuz MS-22/23 crew members Sergei Prokopiev, Dmitriy Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank remained in orbit. Rubio.

Bowen and his colleagues from Crew-6 arrived at the laboratory March 3 to replace Manu, Kasado, Wakata and Kikin. Prokopiev and his two Soyuz crew members, launched last September, spend a year aboard the station after impact of micrometeorites which disabled their ferry, causing a replacement spacecraft to be launched.

Crew-5 astronauts wearing SpaceX spacesuits say goodbye to their space station crewmates before boarding the Crew Dragon spacecraft for their return to Earth on Saturday evening. From left to right: Astronaut Anna Kikina, Pilot Josh Kasada, Commander Nicole Mann and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.


As Mann and her crewmates departed the station after undocking early Saturday, Rubio commented, “great sunset ride. You guys look great. Great job here, we’re going to miss you. God bless.”

Moments later, Mann, a Marine Corps colonel, thanked NASA and SpaceX for their support, saying, “I can’t tell you how great it feels to be part of such an incredible team.”

“And to the crew aboard the International Space Station: you got it all, proud of it, we’ll be following your mission,” Mann added. “And thank you to our friends and family for following us and participating in our mission. It was a great honor for us to add to the legacy.”

It ended with the motto of the marines: “Semper fidelis”.

Crew-5 mission duration at landing: 157 days 10 hours, covering 2,512 orbits and 66.6 million miles since launch on October 5, 2022.

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