SpaceX astronauts return to Earth after a five-month deployment off the coast of Florida

SpaceX Rocket Launch – Courtesy: Shutterstock — Oleg_Yakovlev

During a brief SpaceX ride home, four astronauts from the space station arrived back on Earth late on Saturday.

Their capsule landed with a splash in the Gulf of Mexico, not far from Tampa in Florida.

The American-Russian-Japanese crew, which arrived in October last year, spent five months on board the International Space Station. The astronauts also had to deal with two Russian capsules connected to the orbiting outpost that were leaking as well as the urgent delivery of a replacement vehicle for the station’s other crew members.

The astronauts checked out of the station early on Saturday morning, led by NASA’s Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to travel to space. Their Dragon capsule was bobbing in the water as they awaited pickup less than 19 hours later.

They were at the station for an additional few days earlier in the week due to strong winds and waves in the splashdown zones. Their replacements have been here for more than a week.

“That was one heck of a ride,” Mann radioed moments after splashdown. “We’re happy to be home.”

Mann, a Wailacki of the Round Valley Native Tribes from Northern California, expressed her eagerness to experience the earth’s exquisite cuisine, feel the wind on her face, and smell the fresh grass.

Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina desired to drink hot tea “from actual cup, not from plastic bag,” whereas Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata ached for sushi.

Josh Cassada, a NASA astronaut, had a goal of acquiring his family a rescue dog. He jokingly said, “Please don’t tell our two cats,” as he left the space station.

Three Americans, three Russians, and one space station passenger from the United Arab Emirates are still on board.

The all-time spaceflight champion from Japan, Wakata, has now spent more than 500 days in space across five missions that date back to the NASA shuttle era.

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