NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Splashdown – Astronauts Safely Return to Earth

SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon Endeavour Descent

SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon Endeavour descent. Credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet splashed down safely in the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 10:33 p.m. EST after 199 days in space.

The return breaks the record for the longest spaceflight by a U.S. crewed spacecraft and completes the end of the second crew rotation mission to the International Space Station of the Crew Dragon spacecraft developed in partnership between NASA and SpaceX as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Teams on the Go Navigator recovery ship, including two fast boats, now are in the process of securing Crew Dragon and ensuring the spacecraft is safe for the recovery effort. As the fast boat teams complete their work, the recovery ship will move into position to hoist Crew Dragon onto the main deck of Go Navigator with the astronauts inside. Once on the main deck, the crew will be taken out of the spacecraft and receive medical checks before a helicopter ride to Pensacola to board a plane for Houston.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission launched April 23 on a Falcon 9 rocket from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the Harmony module’s forward port of the space station April 24, nearly a day after liftoff.

Throughout its mission, the Crew-2 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities, scientific investigations, and technology demonstrations, in addition to four spacewalks, and multiple public engagement events while aboard the orbiting laboratory. They studied how gaseous flames behave in microgravity, grew hatch green chiles in the station’s Plant Habitat Facility, installed free-flying robotic assistants and even donned virtual reality goggles to test new methods of exercising in space, among many other scientific activities. The astronauts contributed hundreds of pictures of Earth as part of the Crew Earth Observation investigation, one of the longest-running investigations aboard the space station, which contributes to tracking of natural disasters and changes to our home planet.

Kimbrough has now spent a total of 388 days in space during three spaceflights; he conducted three spacewalks during this mission for a total of nine in his career. It was McArthur’s second spaceflight and her first to the space station, and she has logged 212 total days in space. It was Hoshide’s third spaceflight, bringing his total time in space to 340 days; he conducted one spacewalk for a total of four in his career. Pesquet conducted four spacewalks, for a total of six spacewalks during his two spaceflights totaling 395 days, the most days in space for an ESA astronaut. Hoshide and Pesquet’s spacewalk on September 12 was the first in the history of the space station that did not include an American or Russian.

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