Sending people out into space is really tricky, but it is getting them back that’s the really important bit. SpaceX‘s Crew-2 crew, astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur (NASA), Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA), and Thomas Pesquet (ESA) returned safely to Earth early this morning on board the company’s Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule.
Crew-2 in capsule form
The Crew-2 capsule carrying the astronauts winding up their six-month stay on the International Space Station splashed down in the ocean near Pensacola, Florida at 22:33 Eastern Standard Time last night — or at 05:33 this morning here in South Africa. The crew orbited the planet 3,194 times during their mission in space, which is a whole lot of Frequent Flyer miles (or about 136 million kilometres).
During their time in orbit, the four astronauts performed various upgrades and experiments, including investigating how certain flames behave in microgravity. The crew also installed floating robotic assistants, tested VR-driving exercises in space, and grew hatch green chiles that are apparently great on tacos.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, “Congratulations to the teams at NASA and SpaceX who worked so hard to ensure their successful splashdown. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program continues to demonstrate safe, reliable transportation to conduct important science and maintenance on the space station.”
Next up for SpaceX is the launch of Crew-3, which was supposed to take place earlier this month. Following delays, the current launch window is set for today, 9 November, barring issues.