- Four astronauts returned to Earth, riding home with SpaceX to conclude a 200-day space station mission
- SpaceX’s launch of the replacements will take place as early as Wednesday night
- The next crew is also scheduled to spend around six months up there
On Monday, four astronauts returned to Earth, riding home with SpaceX to conclude a 200-day space station mission that commenced last spring. Their capsule flew through the late-night sky like a dazzling meteor before descending into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Recovery boats swiftly moved in with spotlights.
SpaceX Mission Control radioed from Southern California on behalf of SpaceX, welcome home to Planet Earth. Their homecoming within eight hours after departing from the International Space Station lined the way for SpaceX’s launch of the replacements as early as Wednesday night.
The newcomers were planned to launch first, however, NASA switched the order owing to the bad weather conditions and an undisclosed medical condition of an astronaut. The welcoming duties will now move to the lone American and two Russian left behind at the space station.
Prior to Monday afternoon’s undocking, German astronaut Matthias Maurer, who is looking forward to launching at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, tweeted, it was a shame that the two crews wouldn’t overlap in space but “we trust you will leave everything nice and tidy.” His launch will be SpaceX’s fourth crew flight for NASA in just 1 ½ years.
NASA astronauts namely Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide and France’s Thomas Pesquet were scheduled to be back by Monday morning, but high wind in the recovery zone delayed their return. Sharing a video displaying the space station illuminated against the blackness of space and the twinkling city lights on the nighttime side of the earth, Pesquet tweeted, “One more night with this magical view. Who could complain? I’ll miss our spaceship!”
From the space station, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who was midway through one year flight, bid farewell to each of his departing friends, saying to McArthur, “I’ll miss hearing your laughter in adjacent modules.”
Prior to departing the neighborhood, the four took a spin around the space station as well as took pictures. This was a first for SpaceX, NASA’s shuttles utilized to do it all the time before their retirement a decade ago. Reportedly, the last Russian capsule to fly around was three years before.
The succeeding crew is also scheduled to spend around six months up there, greeting back-to-back groups of tourists. As per reports, a Japanese tycoon and his personal assistance will receive a lift from the Russian Space Agency in December and then by three businessmen arriving via SpaceX’s in February. SpaceX’s first privately chartered flight, in September, sidestepped the space station.