After 170 days in orbit, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts safely landed in the Atlantic

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts completed the agency’s fourth commercial crew mission to the International Space Station by safely splashing down the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on Friday after spending 170 days in orbit aboard the Dragon spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, returned to Earth via parachute at 4:55 p.m. EDT.

The spacecraft and astronauts were recovered by teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels. Following their return to Earth, all astronauts will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Cristoforetti will then board a plane bound for Europe.

“Welcome back, Crew-4!” This international crew has been on the International Space Station for nearly six months, conducting science for the benefit of all. “Their work aboard the orbiting laboratory will aid in the preparation of future explorers for future space missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“Working and living on the space station is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he adds, “but it also requires these explorers to make sacrifices, particularly time away from loved ones.” Thank you for your contributions to science, innovation, and discovery over the last six months, Kjell, Bob, Jessica, and Samantha!”

The Crew-4 mission lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT on April 27 on a Falcon 9 rocket. Dragon docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port less than 16 hours later. The astronauts disembarked from the same port on Friday at 12:05 p.m. to begin their journey home.

During their mission, Hines, Lindgren, Watkins, and Cristoforetti travelled 72,168,935 miles, spent 170 days aboard the space station, and completed 2,720 orbits around Earth. Lindgren has spent 311 days in space on his two flights, and with the completion of their flight today, Cristoforetti has spent 369 days in space on her two flights, putting her second on the all-time list for most days spent in space by a woman.

Hines and Watkins flew for the first time in space on the Crew-4 mission.

Throughout their mission, the Crew-4 astronauts participated in a variety of science, maintenance, and technology demonstrations. Cristoforetti and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev went on two spacewalks to perform station maintenance and upgrades.

Crew-4 continued research into how changes to the space diet affect immune function and the gut microbiome, determining the effect of fuel temperature on the flammability of a material, investigating potential adverse effects on astronaut hearing from equipment noise and microgravity, and determining whether additives increase or decrease emulsion stability.

The astronauts also investigated microgravity-induced immune system changes similar to ageing, tested a novel water-reclamation membrane, and investigated a concrete alternative made with a material found in lunar and Martian dust.

The Freedom by Crew-4 spacecraft will return to Florida for inspection and processing at SpaceX’s Dragon Lair, where teams will examine the data and performance of the spacecraft throughout the flight.

The Crew-4 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, and its return to Earth comes on the heels of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 launch, which docked to the station on October 6 and began another science expedition.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aims to provide safe, dependable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This has already increased the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s microgravity testbed for exploration, including assisting NASA in preparing for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

(source : ANI)

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