Space

Astronauts from Crew-2 return to Earth after roughly 200 days

Astronauts from Crew-2 return to Earth after roughly 200 days

Execution of the Splashdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After nearly 200 days in space, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down late Nov. 8, returning four people from the International Space Station.

At 10:33 p.m. Eastern, the Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. The reentry and splashdown of the spacecraft went off without a hitch. Within an hour, the spacecraft will be carried aboard a recovery vessel, and the four astronauts aboard will be retrieved.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide were all transported back to Earth by Endeavour. The four astronauts arrived at the station in a spacecraft on April 23, almost 200 days after taking off from Kennedy Space Center.

Activities of the Spacecraft

At 2:05 p.m. Eastern, the spacecraft de-docked from the station. The spacecraft then flew around the station for the following two hours. From a distance of roughly 200 meters, it made a loop of the station. During the move, Pesquet snapped images of the station from the Crew Dragon’s window as part of a survey of the station’s exterior.

The return of Endeavour pave the way for Crew-3, the next Crew Dragon mission. Endurance, the spacecraft, is slated to launch from Launch Complex 39A at KSC on Nov. 10 at 9:03 p.m. Eastern. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, will spend six months on the station.

The scheduled launch of Crew-3

The launch of Crew-3 was originally slated for Oct. 31 but was postponed due to weather on Nov. 3. The launch was further delayed due to a “small medical concern” with one of the four astronauts. Furthermore, weather forecasts for both the launch and the landing force the operation to be canceled for areas in the Atlantic.

NASA authorities haven’t spoken anything about the medical problem or who was affected. However, they stated at a press conference on Nov. 6 that they believed the issue to be resolved before the Nov. 10 launch attempt.

 

Due to delays in the launch of Crew-3, NASA decided to bring Crew-2 home first, resulting in an “indirect” handover, leaving the station with only three members. There was only one NASA astronaut onboard at the time.

A direct handover, in which the new crew arrives before the old crew departs, is preferred by NASA. Unfavorable weather forecasts, according to agency officials, persist. Crew-2 was brought back now rather than waiting until Crew-3 arrived later in the month for splashdown.

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