Update 3 a.m. March 11: The four astronauts of the four SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance crew are on their way back to Earth for a flight planned for tonight at 9:02 p.m. ET (0202 GMT on March 12). You can watch the live stream here starting at 8 PM EST (0100 GMT).
NASA’s SpaceX’s Crew-5 astronaut mission departed the International Space Station Saturday (March 11) at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0720 GMT) after more than five months in space.
A SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying the Crew-5 quartet — NASA astronauts Josh Casada and Nicole Mann, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina and Japan’s Koichi Wakata — exited the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:20 a.m. EDT (0720 GMT) on Saturday.
“Being on the International Space Station has been overwhelming,” NASA astronaut Josh Casada said after the capsule moved away from its orbital location. “The crew is incredibly proud of the work we’ve done while we’re there. We’re excited to get back to our beautiful planet and the amazing people out there.”
NASA has twice postponed departures from the International Space Station due to weather concerns from the previously announced dates of Wednesday (March 7) and Thursday (March 8).
Deorbit burning which begins to spatter in will occur 8:11 p.m. EST on Saturday (0125 GMT on Sunday, March 12) with expected air scattering 9:02 p.m. EST on saturday (0202 GMT on March 12). NASA coverage of Crew-5’s return home will resume on 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT on March 12) You can follow him on Space.com or directly at www.space.com NASA Live Broadcast Page (Opens in a new tab).
Related: Northern Lights, Spacecraft Mods, and More: SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts reflect on their time in orbit
Crew-5 launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on October 5, 2022. It was a historic launch, making Mann the first Native American woman to reach space and Kekina the first Russian to fly into orbit on a private US spacecraft.
Crew-5 astronauts have spent five eventful months away from Earth. They’ve been treated to some pretty cool aurora displays, for example, two Russian spacecraft docked on the International Space Station — a Soyuz crew-carrying vehicle and a robotic cargo ship — that leaked during the pilots’ stay on the station.
Dragon’s Crew-5, called Endurance, was briefly modified to accommodate an additional passenger—one of the three Soyuz astronauts, NASA’s Frank Rubio—in case an emergency evacuation to the International Space Station was required. But those modifications were removed last month, after Russia launched a replacement Soyuz aircraft that will take Rubio and his two crewmates back to Earth this fall.
There will still be a SpaceX mission on the International Space Station after Crew-5 departs: Crew-6 arrived at the orbiting laboratory early Friday morning (March 3) aboard Dragon Endeavor.
Crew-6 astronauts — NASA’s Woody Hoburg, Stephen Bowen, Sultan Al Neyadi of the Emirates, and Cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev — are scheduled to live aboard the International Space Station for the next six months.
Mike Wall is the author of “outside (Opens in a new tab)Book (Major Grand Publishing, 2018; illustration by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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