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SpaceX Crew-6 splash down after 6 months in orbit

Four astronauts aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule have splashed down off the coast of Florida after undocking from the International Space Station (ISS) 17 hours earlier.

NASA live streamed the key moments of the homecoming, including the undocking and the final moments before splashdown at about 12:20 a.m. ET on Monday morning. Footage from both events can be viewed below, with the first clip showing the Crew Dragon’s Draco engines firing as the vehicle moves away from the station:

Dragon's Draco thrusters firing

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 3, 2023

The next clip shows the moment the Crew Dragon capsule, on its fourth mission, lands in the water:

Splashdown of Dragon confirmed – welcome back to Earth, Steve, @Astro_Woody, Andrey, and @Astro_Alneyadi!

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 4, 2023

The return of NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, together with United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, marked the end of SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission that saw the crewmembers live and work aboard the orbital outpost for six months.

The mission was the fourth spaceflight for Bowen, who was part of space shuttle missions STS-126 in 2008, STS-132 in 2010, and STS-133 in 2011, and the first for Hoburg, Al Neyadi, and Fedyaev. Al Neyadi broke a couple of records too, spending longer in space than any Arab astronaut that has gone before, and becoming the first Arab to perform a spacewalk.

Crew-6 had a chance to spend a few days with the four astronauts of Crew-7, who arrived at the space station aboard another SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on August 27.

The ISS has had a rotating crew and has been continuously occupied ever since November 2000, and the facility will continue to host astronauts until 2030, shortly before it’s decommissioned.

By that time, however, it’s hoped that at least one privately funded space station will be in orbit to carry on from where the ISS leaves off.

Sunday’s crewed splashdown was the first in U.S. territory since May 2023 when four private space travelers returned from the space station at the end of the Ax-2 mission.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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