NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 splashes down on Earth after 5-month mission aboard ISS


An international crew of four astronauts returned to Earth late Saturday after spending 157 days in orbit aboard the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina splashed down aboard SpaceX’s Dragon “Endurance” capsule in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida coast near Tampa.

The Crew-5 astronauts completed 2,512 orbits around Earth after arriving at the space station last October.

Besides dodging space junk, the astronauts dealt with a pair of leaking Russian capsules docked to the orbiting outpost and the urgent delivery of a replacement craft for the station’s other crew members.

The return trip lasted about 19 hours before the capsule reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and parachuted off the coast of Tampa around 9 p.m.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, left, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, right, are seen inside the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft onboard the SpaceX recovery ship (NASA/Keegan Barber / Fox News)

“That was one heck of a ride,” Mann, who led the mission and is the first Native American woman to fly in space, radioed after safely splashing down. “We’re happy to be home.”

The SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft streaks through the sky at is returns to Earth. | AP Newsroom

SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission was the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada and Kikina. Wakata, Japan’s spaceflight champion, now has logged more than 500 days in space over five missions dating back to NASA’s shuttle era.

In this photo made available by NASA, clockwise from left, Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) gather for a portrait inside th (NASA via AP / AP Newsroom)

Remaining behind at the space station are three Americans, three Russians and one from the United Arab Emirates.


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