SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance returns NASA Astronauts from the Space Station with a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico

SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance returns NASA Astronauts from the Space Station with a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico

SpaceX completed NASA’s Commercial Crew Program third crewed operational mission (Crew-3) to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 6. Crew-3 NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, launched atop a Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. After a 6-month mission they undocked Crew Dragon Endurance from the ISS Harmony module on Thursday, May 5 at 1:20 a.m. ET.

Approximately 24-hours later, Crew Dragon Endurance jettisoned its trunk and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at very high speeds. At an altitude of about 18,000 feet, Dragon deployed its drogue parachutes as the capsule fell from the sky at a speed of around 350-miles per hour. Then the main parachutes deployed 6,000 feet above the ocean while the spacecraft is moving approximately 119-miles per hour. Dragon Endurance splashed down at about 12:43 p.m. EDT in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, Florida.


"Thanks for letting us take Endurance on its shakedown cruise. Looking forward to watching many more flights of Endurance in the future. It was a great ride!" said Crew-1 Commander Chari over radio to SpaceX's Mission Control in Hawthorne, California soon after splashdown.

“Teams on the Shannon recovery ship, including two fast boats, now are in the process of securing Dragon and ensuring the spacecraft is safe for the recovery effort,” said NASA in a press release. The ‘Shannon’ vessel is named after Crew-1 NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, who is one of the first females to ride aboard SpaceX spacecraft. The vessel is designed to fish-out the capsule out of the ocean to rapidly get the crew to safety. “As the fast boat teams complete their work, the recovery ship will move into position to hoist Dragon onto the main deck of Shannon with the astronauts inside. Once on the main deck, the crew will be taken out of the spacecraft and receive medical checks before a helicopter ride to board a plane for Houston,” said NASA representatives. The crew will be transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas.

"Almost six months ago, we came up here on Endurance, the maiden voyage of a SpaceX capsule, and it was a great ride and we're looking forward to riding that back to Earth and to seeing friends and family," said Chari during NASA’s ISS farewell ceremony on Wednesday. "It's exciting with Crew-4 here but also a little bit bittersweet knowing that them being here means it's time for us to pass the torch and head back to Earth." 

“NASA’s partnership with SpaceX has again empowered us to deliver a crew safely to the space station and back, enabling groundbreaking science that will help our astronauts travel farther out into the cosmos than ever before. This mission is just one more example that we are truly in the golden era of commercial spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Kayla, Raja, Tom, and Matthias, thank you for your service and welcome home!” The Crew-3 astronauts contributed to hundreds of science research and maintenance activities and technology demonstrations at the orbiting laboratory. Chari, Barron, and Maurer also participated in three spacewalks to upgrade the Space Station.


Featured Images Source: NASA & SpaceX

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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