Four long-distance astronauts said goodbye to their lab colleagues and disembarked from the International Space Station early Thursday, embarking on a planned descent before dawn off the coast of Florida on Friday morning to complete a 176-day mission.
Commander Raja Chari, pilot Thomas Marshburn, diver astronaut Kayla Barron and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer hooked up to their ferry ship – Crew Dragon Endurance – and withdrew from the outpost at 1:05 p.m. EDT.
“Station, (this is) Endurance,” Chari said on the radio as the ferry slowly separated from the ISS. “Thanks for the warm send. Good luck on Expedition 67, it was great to be there with you guys. I can’t wait to see the great work you keep doing.
“Endurance, we appreciate kind words,” said crew commander-4 Kel Lindgren of the station. “We had a great time surrendering with all of you and look forward to seeing your smiling faces on earth.
Due to the position of the station in its orbit relative to the landing zone in the Gulf of Mexico, astronauts will have to spend almost a day locked in the capsule of SpaceX before being in the right place at the right time to land out of orbit on a landing trajectory. Friday at 12:43 p.m.
SpaceX recovery crews will be ready to pull the capsule aboard a company ship and help returning astronauts go out for initial medical examinations as they begin to adapt to gravity again after nearly six months of weightlessness. During the descent, the crew will complete 2,832 orbits, covering 75 million miles.
The descent from the space station will be monitoredOleg Artemiev, Denis Matveev and Sergei Korsakov, together with Commander Lindgren, pilot Robert Hines, geologist-astronaut Jessica Watkins and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Christophoretti.
“It was an interesting day for us, flying around the station, collecting last-minute photos or last-minute items and getting ready to go home,” Marshburn said during a short farewell ceremony on Thursday. “So a bitter day for all of us.”
All four crew members thanked air traffic controllers, scientists and support staff in the United States, Japan, Europe and Russia for providing round-the-clock assistance after their launch from the Kennedy Space Center on November 10.
Barron said: “It was just an honor to contribute to the legacy of this amazing ship, which has been up here for more than 20 years. And I think it’s really hard for all of us to leave (but) we’re really looking forward to going back to our families and our amazing on-site support network. “
Marshburn, commander of Expedition 67, then handed over the outpost to Artemiev, saying that “the space station’s lasting legacy is very likely to be international cooperation and a place of peace.”
As might be expected, there was no memorial serviceand there are no signs of the international tensions that now exist between Russia and its space station partners.
“So Oleg, you are a very strong and experienced astronaut,” Marshburn said. “I know I will leave the space station in good hands with you.”
Speaking in English with great emphasis, Artemiev thanked Marshburn and his teammates for their friendship, accepting a symbolic “key” from the station.
“It was an amazing time together,” he said. “Tom, Kayla, Raja and Matthias … now brothers, sister. The most important thing for us, for me, for Sergei, for Denis is our family, our children, peace between our countries, our friendship. Thank you for your friendship “
Artemiev, Matveev and Korsakov arrived at the space station aboard the Soyuz MS-21 / 67s spacecraft on March 18th. Lindgren and the Crew-4 astronauts arrived on April 27 and spent the last few days studying the intricacies of the station’s operations from their Crew-3 colleagues.
Shortly after unhooking, the Crew-3 Dragon walked away to the space station with a series of propulsion launches, ending with a planned “phased-out” takeoff shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday. After spending the last “night” in space, the crew will get up and prepare their ship for re-entry.
Discarding the now unnecessary lower trunk of the Crew Dragon, the spacecraft will activate its braking engines for nearly eight minutes, starting at 11:53 p.m. Thursday, slowing the ship long enough to release the far side of its orbit into a Mexican trajectory atmosphere. bay.
Half an hour later, the capsule will be re-immersed in the visible atmosphere, and eight minutes later the spacecraft’s four main parachutes will be deployed, lowering the Crew Dragon to a light spray at 12:43 p.m. days, two hours and 40 minutes.