Three NASA astronauts and the outgoing European commander of the International Space Station departed the orbiting complex and headed for Earth on Friday aboard SpaceX’s Dragon Freedom spacecraft. Undocking from the space station occurred at 12:05 p.m. EDT (1605 GMT). A parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, followed nearly five hours later 4:55 p.m. EDT (2055 GMT).
Four astronauts are preparing to ride a SpaceX Dragon crew capsule from the International Space Station back to Earth this week to close out a nearly six-month expedition, targeting splashdown off the coast of Florida. NASA and SpaceX officials waved off return opportunities Wednesday and Thursday due to unfavorable weather in the splashdown zones.
Two NASA astronauts, a veteran Japanese space flier, and the first Russian cosmonaut to launch on a U.S. spacecraft since 2002 soared into orbit Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, in what could signal an easing of tension between NASA and the new leadership of the Russian space agency.
A multinational crew from the United States, Japan, and Russia launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) Wednesday in pursuit of the International Space Station. The four-person crew rode a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to docking at the space station at 5:01 p.m. EDT (2101 GMT) Thursday to begin a five-month science expedition.
Cosmonaut Anna Kikina will become the first Russian crew member to launch on a U.S. spacecraft since 2002 when she straps into a seat aboard SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance capsule Wednesday for a flight to the International Space Station, opening a new chapter in the U.S.-Russian partnership in orbit that a senior Russian space agency official hopes can be extended past the current end date of 2024, despite souring relations on Earth.
SpaceX’s next astronaut launch for NASA, set for Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center, is one of three missions on the company’s schedule this week from launch pads in Florida and California. The crew mission will get top priority, a SpaceX official said, as managers watch downrange sea conditions and technicians try to resolve final technical issues before liftoff.
SpaceX teams and the four crew members set for blastoff this week to the International Space Station completed dress rehearsals Sunday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, familiarizing the astronauts with their launch day checklist and testing out the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry them into orbit.