4 Astronauts Splash Down Off Florida Coast After SpaceX Mission
SpaceX’s Crew-6 – Sultan Al Neyadi of the UAE, Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg of NASA in the US and Andrey Fedyaev of Russia’s Roscosmos – are now back on Earth, having each completed their first long-duration expedition on the International Space Station (ISS).
The four astronauts splashed down at 12:17 am EDT on September 4 in the Atlantic Ocean off Jacksonville, Florida, onboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft “Endeavour”. Having launched on March 2, the historic landing wrapped the astronauts’ 186-day mission.
They served as Expedition 68 and Expedition 69 flight engineers aboard the ISS. “This has been an absolutely incredible experience,” said Bowen – the only one to have flown in space before – during a brief farewell ceremony aboard the station on August 31.
Crew-6 “Got A Lot Done” During The Expedition
It’s been a “real honour to get to spend six incredibly short-feeling months living and working” aboard the ISS, said Warren at the same ceremony. “I think we got a lot done,” he continued, highlighting three spacewalks and a lot of maintenance, among others.
During their stint in space, the Crew-6 astronauts were required to oversee over 200 different projects. They also hosted the Axiom Mission 2 crew, a group of three paying customers and one former NASA astronaut. It was part of a plan to fly tourists regularly to the ISS.
The four departed the orbiting outpost on Sunday. They had originally been scheduled to return on September 3, but poor weather conditions delayed their arrival on Earth by a day. It was an “amazing” experience for Al Neyadi and the Arab region, too.
Mission’s Promising Impact On Arab World
The flight was not only the UAE astronaut’s first but also the first long-duration mission for an Arab and an Emirati. “I think it was a small boost towards spreading the enthusiasm in our region,” said Al Neyadi – only the second UAE astronaut to fly in space.
Meanwhile, the landing Monday made Fedyaev the first Russian man in history and the second Russian cosmonaut to purposely return from space to a water landing. SpaceX recovery boats were staged near the landing point to help retrieve the spacecraft and its crew from the water.
With Crew-6 now back on the planet, the ISS’s Expedition 69 continues with Frank Rubio and Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, Andreas Mogensen of European Space Agency (ESA), Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa, and Russia’s Dmitry Petelin, Sergey Prokopyev and Konstantin Borisov.