Private aerospace company SpaceX has completed the second full astronaut mission for NASA. Four NASA, ESA, and JAXA astronauts have returned to Earth from the International Space Station. They flew back aboard the Crew Dragon spaceship. The capsule landed off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The four astronauts returned home after spending 200 days at the rotating laboratory. They returned eight hours after leaving the ISS. The return has now paved the way for SpaceX to launch the next four astronauts to the ISS. The four returned astronauts are Thomas Pesquet of ESA, Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA.
SpaceX launched the Crew-2 in April. The four astronauts conducted spacewalks, undertook maintenance activities, and performed science experiments at the ISS. They also grew hot chilis during their stay in space. The Crew-3 mission will be launched with four astronauts from NASA and ESA. The three are Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron. The ESA astronaut is Matthias Maurer. Their mission was originally slated to launch on Halloween. But the launch was delayed by NASA due to weather. The space agency also said that one of the astronauts faced some minor medical issues just before the launch. It didn’t disclose more about the medical issue.
According to NASA, the Crew-3 astronauts are under quarantine at Kennedy Space Center. It said that the Crew Dragon spaceship and Falcon 9 rocket are in good condition. The Crew-3 astronauts will spend six months at the space station. They will likely return in April next year. This will be the fourth flight of a Crew Dragon spaceship with astronauts and the third crew rotation mission. NASA said that the four astronauts will conduct many additional experiments at the ISS. They will push the effort to test exploration risks in space. They will also demonstrate technology for deep space exploration. NASA specified that experiments would include human research and rodent research on the space station. The mission is also crucial for the testing of new upgrades to the ISS’ Environmental Control and Life Support System.