LThe Crew Dragon capsule was separated from the ISS during the schedule (Saturday night 8:35, 00:35 GMT Sunday in the US East Coast).
“Thank you for your hospitality, […] We will meet again on Earth, ”Michael Hopkins, one of the four astronauts, told the station.
It is expected to take about 6.5 hours to return to Earth.
The four astronauts will land in the Gulf of Mexico (06:57 GMT) at 2:57 a.m. Sunday. The planned landing site is far from Panama City, Florida, but other alternative sites have been designated as needed.
“We have trained day and night crews to retrieve,” assured Steve Stitch, NASA’s commercial flight program manager. “The boats have a lot of lighting” and we have “moonlight”, he said, adding that the weather conditions with the Pacific Oceans are excellent right now.
SpaceX ships can reach the capsule “10 minutes after landing”.
Americans Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese Soichi Noguchi were the first astronauts on an “operational” mission to be transported to the ISS by Elon Musk’s space agency last November, with NASA as a key partner.
Two other Americans have already made a round trip over the Dragon in 2020 during a two-month test mission at the station. It is the first aircraft to the ISS, launched from the United States since the end of the spacecraft in 2011, and is operated by a private company with astronauts on board.
This is the first regular mission to bring SpaceX back to Earth.
For the final “splash”, the astronauts were aboard the same Dragon spacecraft, known as the “Elastic”, which carried them into orbit, and plans to use them again for other missions after SpaceX reconditioning.
Dragon takes “scientific freezers full of research samples” conducted at zero gravity, NASA says.
The crew departed into the ISS last week for the last regular mission of the second regular mission, Crew-1, run by the French astronaut, Thomas Pesquet, and the American Company (Crew-2) who owns the baton. Approved in recent days.
“It passed quickly”
Shannon Walker handed over the ISS command to the Crew-2 astronaut on Tuesday during the symbolic ceremony. “I will cherish these moments forever,” she said on the occasion.
In total, Crew-1 spent 168 days in space. “Time flies, it happened really quickly,” Victor Glover ruled.
“As far as we can imagine, we’re so excited about this water landing, for what it allows, that is, to return to our families,” Michael Hopkins told his part. “We are very happy with this mission. I think we can not all wait to come home.”
Their departure from the ISS was originally scheduled for Wednesday, then Friday, but had to be postponed each time due to weather conditions in the landing zone.
NASA and SpaceX are working with the US Coast Guard to establish a 10 nautical-mile safety zone around the planned landing site, to ensure public safety, and those responsible. The U.S. space agency says the astronauts need to be retrieved. In a statement.
When the two astronauts returned from the test mission in August 2020, the pleasure boats came very close to where the capsule had landed and had to be removed.
In addition to the crew-2’s four astronauts, another American astronaut and two Russians arrived on a Soyuz rocket, which was also on the ISS. Prior to the departure of Crew-1, the space station had a population of less than 11 people.