Crew-3 Is Home

Crew-3 Is Home

Three astronauts from NASA and one from ESA returned to Earth early this morning after almost six months in space. Splashdown was in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, FL. The geopolitical situation on Earth changed dramatically during their residency on the International Space Station with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the relationships between the ISS astronauts and cosmonauts and their support teams on the ground appear to be unaffected.

NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron and ESA’s Matthias Maurer launched on November 10, 2021, more than three months before the Ukraine war began on February 24.

Crew-3 L-R:  Raja Chari (NASA), Thomas Marshburn (NASA),  Matthias Maurer (ESA), and Kayla Barron (NASA) . Photo credit:  Robert Markowitz

The first part of their expedition was spent with the Soyuz MS-18/MS-19 crew — Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei. They were visited by two sets of private astronauts: Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his production assistant Yozo Hirono in December on a Russian-sponsored mission, and the four-person U.S.-sponsored Axiom-1 mission last month: Michael López-Alegria (U.S./Spain), Larry Connor (U.S.), Mark Pathy (Canada) and Eytan Stibbe (Israel).

Crew-3 was part of the regular crew rotation missions that take place on roughly six-month schedules. Their replacements on Crew-4 arrived last week: Kjell Lindgren (NASA), Bob Hines (NASA), Jessica Watkins (NASA), and Samantha Cristoforetti (Italy/ESA). The Russians also have regular crew rotation missions. The most recent Russian crew arrived in March. Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov replaced Shkaplerov, Dubrov and Vande Hei.

Splashdown was at 12:43 am ET. It was nighttime, but infrared cameras provided almost day-like images as the parachutes deployed and the Endurance capsule landed in the water.

Crew Dragon Endurance under parachutes moments before landing in the Gulf of Mexico, May 6, 2022. Screengrab. 


Crew Dragon Endurance with three NASA and one ESA astronauts floating in the Gulf of Mexico after returning from the International Space Station, May 6, 2022. Parachutes are floating in the water behind the capsule. Screengrab.

After 177 days in space, Chari, Marshburn, Barron and Maurer were lifted aboard SpaceX’s recovery vessel Shannon just about 30 minutes later with Endurance showing the now-familiar scorching from the heat of reentry. SpaceX’s four human spaceflight capsules — Endeavour, Endurance, Freedom, and Resilience — are reusable.

Crew-3’s Crew Dragon Endurance being brought aboard SpaceX’s recovery vessel Shannon, May 6, 2022. Screengrab.
Crew-3 in the Crew Dragon Endurance after splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico and being brought aboard the SpaceX recovery vessel Shannon, May 6, 2022. L-R: Matthias Maurer (ESA), Tom Marshburn (NASA), Raja Chari (NASA), Kayla Barron (NASA).  Credit: NASA
Crew-3 pilot Tom Marshburn after exiting Crew Dragon Endurance, May 6, 2022. Screengrab.

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