The Crew-5 mission from SpaceX has safely returned to Earth. After a five-month stay at the International Space Station, the company’s “Endurance” Dragon spacecraft splashed down off the coast of Florida on Saturday evening.
NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, Japan’s Koichi Wakata, and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina were aboard the capsule.
The four spent 157 days in space during an ISS cycle that will go down in history. According to Space.com, Mann, a member of the Wailaki tribe, became the first Native American woman to fly in space during the Crew-5 mission.
It was also the first time a Russian cosmonaut rode on a private American spacecraft, a feat made possible after NASA and Roscosmos struck a seat-sharing arrangement last year amid rising US-Russian tensions as a result of the Ukraine war.
Splashdown!#Crew5 is back on Earth, completing a science mission of nearly six months on the @Space_Station. Their @SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft touched down at 9:02pm ET (0202 UTC March 12) near Tampa off the coast of Florida. pic.twitter.com/nLMC0hbKY4
— NASA (@NASA) March 12, 2023
The voyage was Wakata’s fifth return to space, a Japanese record. Endurance was also in orbit for the second time, after safely returning the Crew-3 crew to Earth last October. Before its next mission, the spaceship will return to SpaceX Dragon Lair facility in Florida for safety checks and refurbishing.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio was not on the voyage since he travelled to the ISS aboard MS-22, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that experienced a coolant leak late last year after an apparent micrometeoroid collision.
After Roscomos decided that MS-22 could only safely transport two people, the Endurance crew temporarily adapted their ride to take Rubio in the event of an emergency escape from the ISS.
They were eventually removed after Russia deployed a backup Soyuz spacecraft to return Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin to Earth.