The third long-duration team of astronauts launched by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA safely departed the orbiting outpost early on Thursday (Could 5) to start their descent back to Earth, capping a six-month science mission.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying three US NASA astronauts and a German astronaut from the European Space Company undocked from the ISS shortly after 0500 GMT to embark on a return flight anticipated to final about 23 hours.
Reside video exhibiting the capsule transferring away from the station was proven on a NASA webcast.
Carrying helmeted white-and-black spacesuits, the 4 astronauts have been seen strapped into the crew cabin shortly earlier than the spacecraft separated from the area station, orbiting about 400km above the Earth. A number of transient rocket thrusts then autonomously pushed the capsule safely away from the ISS.
If all goes easily, the Crew Dragon craft, dubbed Endurance, will parachute into the ocean off the coast of Florida at 0443 GMT on Friday.
The Endurance crew, consisting of American astronauts Tom Marshburn, 61, Raja Chari, 44 and Kayla Barron, 34, together with ESA crewmate Matthias Maurer, 52, arrived on the area station on Nov 11.
Their departure got here a couple of week after they welcomed their alternative team aboard the station, additionally at present house to three Russian cosmonauts on a long-term mission. A kind of cosmonauts, Oleg Artemyev, assumed command of the ISS from Marshburn in a handover earlier than Thursday’s undocking, NASA mentioned.
Earlier in April, a separate all-private astronaut crew launched by SpaceX to the area station below contract for the Houston-based firm Axiom Space left the orbiting laboratory, concluding two weeks in orbit.
The NASA-ESA team flying house on Thursday was formally designated “Crew 3”, the third full-fledged long-duration group of astronauts that SpaceX has launched to the area station for the US area company.
They are going to be carrying about 250kg of cargo with them on their flight back to Earth.
SpaceX, the California-based firm based in 2002 by Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of electrical carmarker Tesla who just lately clinched a deal to purchase social media platform Twitter, has launched a complete of seven human spaceflights over the previous two years.