SpaceX Crew Dragon returns from ISS with 4 astronauts onboard
A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft has successfully brought four astronauts home with a midnight splash off the coast of Florida. The astronauts left the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, bringing an end to their six-month stay in the space station. They were launched into space in November as part of the Crew-3 mission. This retrieval capped a rather busy month for SpaceX.
Take a look at the splashdown
Why does this story matter?
- Elon Musk-headed SpaceX has had a very busy month with two launches and two splashdowns within a month. If this is anything to go by, we will soon see a SpaceX-led commercial space program revolution.
- On the other hand, the effort of the astronauts in maintaining the integrity of the ISS while things go south between the West and Russia is equally commendable.
The crew comprised 3 NASA astronauts
The crew consisted of three NASA astronauts - Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, and a German astronaut named Matthias Maurer with European Space Agency. They were launched to space in November as a part of the Crew-3 mission. During their time in the ISS, they lived and worked in the Orbiting lab. They conducted science experiments and maintained the station through spacewalks.
The astronauts had to deal with debris of Russian satellites
The crew had a rather eventful stay in space. Everything started with Russia destroying its own satellites with a missile. This created a cloud of debris that threatened the integrity of the space station. The astronauts had to take shelter inside their spacecraft as a precautionary measure in case the debris damaged the ISS. However, nothing happened and they returned to a normal routine.
The NASA-Roscosmos partnership's stability was called into question
Few months after the debris incident, Russia invaded Ukraine. Even the ISS was not spared from the repercussions of the war. As the tensions between the US and Russia grew, questions about the partnership between NASA and Roscosmos also arose. Although there have been hints about cutting ties from the Roscosmos head, the Crew-3 astronauts continued their work with their Russian colleagues.
SpaceX launched 'Crew-4' on April 27
The Crew-3 was SpaceX's third mission to the ISS under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. It was also the company's eighth time sending astronauts to space. On April 27, it launched Crew-4, which included three NASA astronauts and one Italian. The Crew-3 was present during their arrival and helped them familiarize themselves with the station. We can expect a new mission from the partnership soon.