“Welcome home, Crew-5!” After 5 months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission safely returned to Earth on Saturday, March 11.
At 9:02 p.m. EST (02:02 UTC) the Dragon Endurance splashed down off the coast of Tampa, Florida, on one of the seven targeted zones. Half an hour later, SpaceX teams recovered the capsule and lifted it onto the recovery ship S.S. Shannon. The four astronauts are now on their way to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Guess who’s back? Back again! 🌎#Crew5 safely splashed down off the coast of Florida near Tampa on March 11 at 9:02 pm ET after spending 157 days aboard the @Space_Station. They are now on their way to Houston where they will soon be greeted by their friends and family. pic.twitter.com/ZidBaV5PB8— NASA’s Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) March 12, 2023
The departure from the ISS was delayed two times for weather concerns on March 7 and March 8. Finally, on Saturday, March 11 at 2:20 a.m. (7:20 UTC) the Endurance undocked from the Space Station to start its trip back to Earth.
Since October 2022, the astronauts have conducted over 200 experiments including studies on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating in simulated lunar gravity, and better understanding heart disease. They have indeed brought home some of these experiments and biological samples for medical studies.
The Crew-5 astronauts have already been replaced by the Crew-6 mission that arrived at the ISS on March 3. During the last week, they helped the newcomers to adapt to life on the Space Station, they spent 157 days overall in orbit.
On Oct. 5, 2022, at 12 p.m. EST (21:00 UTC) a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, carrying the Crew-5 mission. 12 minutes after liftoff the Dragon Endurance spacecraft successfully separated from the first stage.
Endurance arrived at the International Space Station 29 hours after liftoff and docked with Harmony’s module at 21:10 UTC on Oct. 6. Two hours later, the astronauts moved from the Dragon capsule into the ISS to start a 5-month mission on the station.
For this launch, SpaceX used a brand-new booster, B1077 that after re-entry landed on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions. This was the second flight for the Endurance spacecraft that previously launched the Crew-3 mission in November 2021.
Crew-5 was originally scheduled to launch in September 2022 but was then postponed for an accident with the B1077 booster during shipping from SpaceX’s headquarters to McGregor testing facility. The launch date was then delayed again due to the arrival of Hurricane Ian in October.
The Crew-5 was composed of two astronauts from NASA, one astronaut of JAXA, and a Russian cosmonaut.
For the mission commander Nicole Mann, this was her first flight since becoming a NASA astronaut in 2013. She is the first woman to command a Crew Dragon and she also became the first Native American woman to fly to space. She was responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry.
This was also the first flight for NASA astronaut Josh Cassada since his selection in 2013. During this mission, he has been the pilot, responsible for spacecraft systems and performance,he also conducted three spacewalks with NASA astronaut Frank Rubio. Former US Navy test pilot, Cassada has been reassigned from the Boeing Starliner-1 mission just like Nicole Mann.
The mission specialist Koichi Wakata is instead a spaceflight veteran on his fifth mission. The well-experienced JAXA astronaut has previously participated in four Space Shuttle missions and a Soyuz mission, with Crew-5 he has flown on his third different type of spacecraft. During these months he participated in two spacewalks.
On the other hand, the second mission specialist, Anna Kikina, was the youngest Crew-5 astronaut. The cosmonaut selected by Roscosmos in 2012, has been the first Russian to fly on a Crew Dragon.