SpaceX set a new record for American spacecraft, Crew Dragon Endeavour spent a total of 199 days docked to the International Space Station (ISS) before returning Crew-2 astronauts to Earth on Monday night. “Since this Dragon also completed the 63-day Demo-2 mission last year, it has now clocked over 260 days in space,” SpaceX said. Crew-2 is SpaceX’s fifth crewed spaceflight and third operational mission under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Since this Dragon also completed the 63-day Demo-2 mission last year, it has now clocked over 260 days in space— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 9, 2021
Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, spent 6 months working at the orbiting laboratory, they undocked from ISS Harmony module this morning at 2:05 p.m. EST. Before returning to Earth, Crew Dragon Endeavour conducted an autonomous 360-degree flyaround the Space Station while ESA astronaut Pesquet took high-resolution photographs of it. It was the first time in over a decade that a spacecraft circles the entire Station, which took them almost 2-hours. Then the astronauts initiated a 6-hour-long voyage back down to Earth from an altitude of around 400-kilometers.
Dragon’s four main parachutes have deployed pic.twitter.com/2VaDOSu8LF— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 9, 2021
Crew Dragon Endeavour reentered Earth’s atmosphere on Monday (November 8) night. It conducted a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola, Florida, at 10:33 p.m. EST. “On behalf of SpaceX, welcome home to planet Earth,” a SpaceX mission control member said as soon as the crew splashed down. SpaceX Go Navigator recovery ship quickly fished-out the Crew Dragon spacecraft out of the ocean.
The capsule looks like a burnt marshmallow from reentering our planet’s atmosphere at hypersonic speeds (see video below). Recovery teams checked the capsule to ensure it was not leaking any propellant, then opened the hatch to safely extract the crew. NASA and SpaceX camera teams captured a cool shot zooming in an out of the capsule’s interior after the hatch opened. The brave astronauts smiled and gave a thumbs up to the cameras that were streaming in real time. Then medical teams carried the astronauts out of the capsule to conduct health checks. Once complete, the crew will be transported by a helicopter to NASA’s facility. If you missed Monday’s mission, you can watch the recorded video linked below.
“Throughout its mission, the Crew-2 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities, scientific investigations, and technology demonstrations, in addition to four spacewalks, and multiple public engagement events while aboard the orbiting laboratory,” the agency said, “They studied how gaseous flames behave in microgravity, grew hatch green chiles in the station’s Plant Habitat Facility, installed free-flying robotic assistants and even donned virtual reality goggles to test new methods of exercising in space, among many other scientific activities. The astronauts contributed hundreds of pictures of Earth as part of the Crew Earth Observation investigation, one of the longest-running investigations aboard the space station, which contributes to tracking of natural disasters and changes to our home planet,” agency representatives shared.
VIDEO: SpaceX Crew-2 Mission | Return To Earth
Featured Image Source: SpaceX & NASA