There were smiles, thumbs up, and peace signs as SpaceX successfully brought home the crew of four from the International Space Station (ISS). Four astronauts from the Crew-2 mission, returned to Earth on Monday. This marked the end of a 200-day space station mission that started last spring. It is the longest spaceflight by a U.S. crewed spacecraft.
On Monday night, the crew splashed down off the coast of Pensacola in the Gulf of Mexico. Their flight marks the third time that SpaceX has launched people to the ISS and then brought them back on the Earth. NASA tweeted, "The @SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts are happy to be home after six months in space."
'Welcome Home to Planet Earth'
The crew members who returned to Earth were two NASA astronauts, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet. "On behalf of SpaceX, welcome home to planet Earth," a SpaceX flight controller stated when the crew splashed down. "It's great to be back," one of the astronauts replied.
The Dragon vehicle, called as Endeavour, parachuted into the sea as planned at around 10:30 p.m. EST on Monday (0330 GMT Tuesday), following a sizzling re-entry fall through Earth's atmosphere, reported Reuters.
The spacecraft commenced its eight-hour return journey earlier in the day with a 90-minute fly-around of the space station. The crew, during that time period took photographs of the orbiting outpost, which was circling the globe at a height of 250 miles (400 kilometers).
What was the Purpose of the Mission?
The crew arrived at the ISS on April 24. They carried out hundreds of experiments and helped upgrade the station's solar panels.
They performed more than 300 experiments, one of which involved growing Hatch chile peppers in orbit, reported The Verge. Their activities consisted of documenting the planet's surface to record human-caused changes and natural events. The Crew-2 astronauts also studied worms to better understand human health changes in space.
SpaceX Toilet Leak Forces Astronauts to Use Diapers on the Way Back to Earth
The astronauts were left with no choice but to use diapers on the way back home from the ISS on Sunday due to a malfunctioning toilet in SpaceX capsule.
Astronaut McArthur described the situation as "suboptimal" but manageable. Speaking in a news conference from orbit, she said, "Spaceflight is full of lots of little challenges. This is just one more that we'll encounter and take care of in our mission. So, we're not too worried about it."
The SpaceX launch had been delayed for over a week, because of bad weather and an undisclosed medical issue involving a crew member.