May 20, 2024

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An astronaut’s crew splashes out near Florida, ending its five-month stay in space

An astronaut’s crew splashes out near Florida, ending its five-month stay in space

(CNN) The four astronauts who make up Crew-5 aboard the International Space Station returned home from a five-month stay in space Saturday, landing in the Gulf of Mexico.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule descended from the space station at 2:20 a.m. ET, beginning the final leg of the astronauts’ journey. The spacecraft then headed back toward Earth before plunging back into the atmosphere to land off the coast of Tampa, Florida, just after 9 p.m. EDT on Saturday.

Rescue ships waited for the team’s arrival, ready to pull the capsule from the ocean and allow the crew to disembark, giving the astronauts their first breath of fresh air in nearly 160 days.

The four crew members — NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Kasada, astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA, or the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and astronaut Anna Kikina of the Russian space agency Roscosmos — launched to the space station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule last October. . They’ve spent the past few months doing research experiments and keeping up with the maintenance of the two-decade-old lab.

And for the few days before they were gone, the Crew-5 astronauts were handing operations over to the Crew-6 team, which He arrived at the space station on March 3.

Meet the crew

Mann, a registered member of the Wailacki tribe of the Round Valley Reservation, became a member First Native American woman to travel to it orbit. She devoted time like other astronauts on her public outreach journey, some of which has focused on inspiring Aboriginal people children. during One outreach event In November 2022, Mann A.J The dream catcher—a traditional Native American totem meant to ward off bad dreams—she took her with her to the space station.

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“I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage,” Mann told reporters before the launch. “I think it’s important to celebrate our diversity and realize how important it is when we come together and unite, the amazing achievements we can achieve.”

Kikina’s participation in this ride came as part of a ride-sharing agreement before NASA and Roscosmos in July 2022. Despite geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia as the war in Ukraine escalates, NASA has repeatedly said its partnership with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is necessary to continue operations of the space station and the valuable scientific research being conducted on board.

The flight was Mann, Kasada and Kekina’s first trip to space.

Wakata previously flew on NASA’s Space Shuttle flights and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. This flight was the fifth mission by a Japanese astronaut.