four astronauts return from five-month mission to the International Space Station

On Saturday evening, the crew are expected to board their spacecraft, which has been stationary in the space station’s docking ports since the astronauts arrived in November. They will disembark from the International Space Station around 8:30 p.m. ET, then spend the night aboard their capsule flying freely in orbit. The spacecraft will use its onboard engines to safely reduce Earth’s thick atmosphere, and it will use a series of parachutes to slow down its force before it crashes off the coast of Florida on Sunday morning around 2 h 57 ET.

As the vehicle glides towards the ocean with a column of four large parachutes rising above it, a brigade of rescue ships will be stationed in the Gulf of Mexico to receive the crew on arrival. The astronauts will then be transported by helicopter or boat to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, which is the headquarters of all American astronauts.

The recovery teams will try to make their return as quickly as possible. Splashing in the ocean can be difficult for astronauts, as the swaying waves can cause extreme seasickness. When asked what meal he was looking forward to when he got home, NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins admitted he probably wouldn’t feel ready for a tasty meal.

“If I had an appetite it would be a bonus,” Hopkins said on a conference call Monday.

Authorities are closely monitoring nearby waters for any intruders. When the Crew Dragon Demo-2 launched in August, an unidentified squadron of flag-waving boats encroached on the recovery area. But Coast Guard crews are currently stationed around the ocean, hoping to avoid a repeat of this scenario.

The capsule contains functional toilets and astronauts – NASA Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker et Soichi NoguchiAn astronaut working with the Japanese Space Agency – will get some sleep time while the fully autonomous vehicle spins as SpaceX and NASA officials orbit Houston, Texas, and Hawthorne, Calif., Watch out for theft.
Walker was the captain of the space station and on Tuesday she officially handed over control to Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshid. Who arrived at the International Space Station last week Aboard another SpaceX spacecraft.

The crew’s return on Sunday will conclude a historic mission for NASA and SpaceX: this is the first fully operational manned mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, after a test mission in May that carried NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, both test pilots. , at the space station.

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This is only the second time that SpaceX and NASA have brought astronauts home on a Crew Dragon vehicle, after Behnken and Hurley returned from SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission in August. Behnken described the return trip as the most turbulent part of the journey home.

The spacecraft gets very hot due to the rapid air pressure and the friction of air particles rubbing against the exterior, although a thick heat shield will protect the astronauts inside as the spacecraft roars towards his target: “It doesn’t look like a machine. It looks like an animal, ”he said. Behnken told reporters last year.

But this mission, dubbed Crew-1, is not a test. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is officially certified as a spacecraft worth transporting people ahead of Crew-1’s launch in November, paving the way for the start of the relatively routine flight, carrying astronauts from diverse backgrounds.

Walker and Noguchi, for example, have a background in physics. The team led Experiments during their five-month stay on the International Space Station, including research into how microgravity affects human heart tissue. They are also hired Space walks To perform upgrades and repairs outside the space station, they grew radishes to build on studies designed to see how food could be grown to support space exploration missions. distant.
NASA astronauts can't wait to leave Earth for SpaceX mission

Hopkins told a recent press conference that the astronauts can eat some of the crops they’ve grown.

“I think we all agree that you have it surprisingly fresh [food] Here, ”Hopkins said.

It was Glover’s very first mission to space, and his mission was historic as he became the first black person to become a full-time employee of the International Space Station.

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“One of the things that really affected me deeply was the first time I got out of the seat after that [our spacecraft] It was in orbit safely, and I looked out the window and saw the Earth 250 miles high, ”said Glover,“ I’ll never forget that moment… It wasn’t about view. It was what the landscape made me feel… the ground is beautiful. she is beautiful. He protects us, so we have to work hard to protect him. “

The United States spent nearly a decade without the ability to launch astronauts into space following the withdrawal from the Space Shuttle program in 2011, and NASA was forced to rely on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to deliver. its astronauts at the International Space Station, whose space agency claims to have left the laboratory, the billion-dollar lab is understaffed. As many as possible 13 astronauts were on board at the same time in 2009. This number has occasionally decreased to three on several occasions, leaving fewer people to help run experiments and help keep the space station well maintained. However, with the latest SpaceX missions, the number of employees has increased to 11.

SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon capsule as part of NASA’s Commercial Flight Crew program, which, for the first time in the history of the space agency, provided much of the design, development and testing of new human-class spacecraft to the private sector. NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing fixed-price contracts worth $ 2.6 billion and $ 4.2 billion, respectively, to do the job. Development of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is still delayed due to major software issues discovered during a test mission last year, but officials say the spacecraft could be ready this year.

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