Two NASA astronauts, a Russian astronaut and a United Arab Emirates astronaut, lifted off from the International Space Station on Sunday and flew to Splashdown from Florida’s east coast overnight after spending six months in orbit.
Aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon „Endeavour” spacecraft, Crew-6 Commander Stephen Bowen, Pilot Woody Hoburg, Astronaut Andrey Fedayev and UAE Crewmember Sultan Alneyadi will lift off from the station’s forward Harmony Module at 7:05 a.m. ET 17:00 a.m. ET. Flight back to Earth.
„Before we get busy, we want to say WOW!” Radioed minutes before task control was opened. „Can you believe it’s time to leave already? We can’t. … You’ve done an incredible job and to say it’s a pleasure to support you in this mission would be an understatement.”
„Thank you very much,” Bowen replied. „It’s a real pleasure and honor to be here on this mission. 23 years of continuous occupation of the International Space Station is absolutely amazing. It’s a real privilege to be a part of it.”
If all goes well, Crew Dragon will execute a 16-minute de-orbit thruster firing starting at 11:24 p.m. The „burn” slows the spacecraft to 252 mph, enough to drop back into the lower atmosphere on a southwest-northeast course.
Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Jacksonville, Florida, is expected at 12:17 a.m. Monday.
„We certainly look forward to our visit, and for me as a new flyer, the final part of that once-in-a-lifetime experience (is) going from 17,500 miles per hour to a big splash down,” Hoberg said last week.
A SpaceX team will be standing by to help crew members out of the cabin as they tow the spacecraft aboard a company recovery ship and begin adjusting to unfamiliar gravity after a year and a half in weightlessness.
Before leaving the space station, Bowen, a former submariner, said he was „very much looking forward to the nice sea breeze and calm calm seas. It’s going to be great to go back.”
Hoburg said he was expecting „real rain.” Alneyadi said he can’t wait to be reunited with friends and family, along with enjoying a „real hot cup of coffee.” As for Fedyaev, „I think my dream is a bed to sleep well. I’m on one side. The other side. My back. Sleeping!”
After initial medical checks on the rescue ship, the four passengers will be airlifted to shore by helicopter. A NASA jet will take them back to Houston and the Johnson Space Center to reunite with friends and family.
Three Soyuz crew members left behind in orbit — station commanders Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Petlin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio — and four Crew Dragon flyersReplacing Bowen and company: Crew-7 commander Jasmine Mokbeli, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov.
Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio launched to the station last September, completing a marathon 371-day mission.
They originally planned to spend six months in space, but their Soyuz spacecraft was disabled by a major coolant leak last December. The Russians wanted to send up to oneAnd the work of the crew was extended for another six months.
The new Soyuz crew — commander Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara — is scheduled to launch on September 15 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio will return to Earth 12 days later. In doing so, Rubio will set a new US record for the longest single spacewalk by an American astronaut.
, the Crew-6 flyers will have spent 185 days and 22 hours off the planet, circling the globe 2,976 times while traveling 78.9 million miles in space. By Splashdown, Bowen, the only astronaut on the crew, would have logged 227 days in space over four missions.
During their mission, the Crew-6 astronauts welcomed seven visiting vehicles, including two unpiloted Cargo Dragon spacecraft, two Russian Progress supply ships, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo carrier and two piloted Crew Dragons.
They also went on three space missions. Both Bowen and Hoburg ventured outside twice to install new roll-out solar arrays, and Alniadi joined Bowen for a third excursion to recover a failed antenna array and perform other maintenance.
„It was definitely an experience of a lifetime, and it was a real honor to spend six months, six incredibly short-lived months, living and working on this incredible orbital outpost,” Hoberg said before the station’s departure. „I think we’ve done a lot.”
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