Astronaut returns to Earth after 6 months in space

AmericaSpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft carrying four astronauts on the Crew-2 mission flew back to Earth and was scheduled to land off the coast of Florida.

Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft flies around the ISS station after separating from the station.  Photo: NASA TV

Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft flies around the ISS station after separating from the station. Photo: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Akihiko Hoshide will conclude their six-month mission aboard the Station. The International Space Station (ISS). The hatch between the Endeavor and the ISS station closed at 0:13 on November 9, Hanoi time. The ship separated from the ISS station, then fired several short bursts to fly away from the station. According to the schedule, the astronauts landed in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola, Florida at 10:33 am on the same day.

After successfully separating from the ISS station, the crew conducted a flight around the station for 1.5 hours to take pictures of the outside of the station. The photos will allow to examine some areas that cannot be seen by conventional cameras. This also helps test the Dragon’s navigation sensor.

Crew-2 astronauts have spent six months in space after launching in April 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket. The next crewed flight, Crew-3, has been delayed several times from the schedule. was initially launched on October 31 due to bad weather and one member having minor health problems. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron and German astronaut Matthias Maurer will fly to the ISS station at 9:03 am on 11/11 Hanoi time, if all goes well.

Each Crew Dragon can only stay in orbit for about 210 days before having to return to Earth. That’s because the ship’s sensitive hardware is regularly exposed to radiation when docking with the ISS. Since the Crew-2 crew reached the 200-day mark in space, NASA and SpaceX decided to bring them back before Crew-3 launch. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will stay at the ISS and help the Crew-3 crew adjust to life in microgravity.

When Endeavor separated from the ISS, both ships were 416 km above Chile. The return flight to Earth lasted 8.5 hours because the Dragon spacecraft needed to carefully start its engines, then leave orbit. Using a parachute to land, the ship landed in the sea in the Gulf of Mexico. NASA and SpaceX’s ship recovery team predicted ideal weather with light winds and calm seas. One of SpaceX’s recalls will use an existing system to pull the Dragon out of the water. The hatch will then open to let the crew out. Medical staff will check the health of the astronauts before they board the helicopter to fly ashore and back to the base in Houston.

An Khang (Follow Space)

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