After a 199-day mission in orbit, the four astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft returned to Earth. The capsule landed at 04.33 off the coast of Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, with the two Americans from NASA on board, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, the Japanese Akihiko Hoshide, of the Jaza space agency, and the Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, of the European Space Agency.
The return with 240 kg of equipment and experiments
Starting from the International Space Station eight hours earlier (at 20.05), held back by the Earth’s atmosphere and then by four huge parachutes, the Dragon capsule withstood the dizzying descent thanks to its heat shield and was then recovered from a ship. Once out, the astronauts were returned to the mainland by helicopter. On board the capsule also 240 kg of equipment and scientific experiments, on which the four astronauts of Crew-2 studied for six months. Crew-2 is the second of six manned missions to and from the ISS that Elon Musk’s company has fielded as part of the contract with NASA which provides for the sending of astronauts from US soil, missions that were not have been more performed since the end of the Shuttle program in 2011.
The next mission
NASA keeps unchanged for now the plan to launch the Crew-3 mission from Kennedy Space Center, also in Florida, on Wednesday. The new mission will bring four other astronauts aboard a new Dragon capsule to the orbital laboratory: commander Raja Chari, pilot Tom Marshburn, NASA mission specialist Kayla Barron and the German ESA scientist Matthias Maurer: they too will remain in the space six months.