SpaceX, 4 astronauts leave the ISS and return to Earth in the Crew Dragon capsule

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with three American astronauts and a Japanese astronauts: Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA and Japanese Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency successfully landed, supported by 4 parachutes. The landing, after 160 days in space, took place off the coast of Panama City, Florida, and was broadcast live by NASA. It is the first regular mission to be transported to Earth by SpaceX, while last week a second regular mission, Crew-2, also carried out by the American company, arrived aboard the ISS.

A six and a half hour trip

For the return to Earth, the astronauts used the same Dragon spaceship, dubbed “Resilience”, which took them into orbit and which SpaceX – Elon Musk’s space company – plans to reuse for other missions, after having reconditioned it. Released from the Space Station’s Harmony module, the spacecraft – which has an internal space of 9 square meters – also brought back to Earth the result of the various experiments conducted on board the ISS: a load of 250 kg of material, stored in the pressurized section. , in security cabinets that are refrigerated freezers. The Crew Dragon capsule detached from the ISS at the scheduled time (20:35 US East Coast time, 2:35 am today in Italy), and the return flight took about six and a half hours.

The first astronauts brought to the ISS by Elon Musk

Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi were the first astronauts on an “operational” mission to be transported to the ISS by Elon Musk’s space company last November. Two other Americans had already made the round trip aboard the Dragon in 2020, during a two-month test mission on the International Space Station: it was the first flight to the ISS launched by the United States since the end of the missions. of the Space Shuttles, in 2011, and the first made by a private company with astronauts on board.