Four astronauts on their way back to Earth aboard a SpaceX capsule
Steph Deschamps / May 6, 2022
After spending almost six months in space, three American astronauts and a German returned to Earth on Friday aboard a SpaceX capsule, which landed off the coast of Florida.
Detached from the International Space Station (ISS), the Dragon capsule, which carried Americans Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, as well as European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, touched down at 04:43 GMT after a journey of over 23 hours.
On behalf of the entire SpaceX team, welcome home, said an official of the U.S. company.
This crew, named Crew-3, spent its last days on board the ISS to carry out the handover with Crew-4, also composed of four astronauts (three Americans and one Italian). The latter had taken off from Florida about a week ago, also with SpaceX.
Three Russians also currently remain on board the ISS, having arrived with a Russian Soyuz rocket.
This was the sixth landing of a manned Dragon capsule for SpaceX, which now regularly delivers astronauts to the ISS on behalf of NASA.
Matthias Maurer is the twelfth German to have gone into orbit. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wished him on Twitter a safe journey home, highlighting his work and all the new discoveries made in space.
Crew-3 members have conducted multiple scientific experiments. For example, they studied how cement hardens in zero gravity -- something that could be important for future construction, for example on the Moon. And they harvested the second crop of chili peppers aboard the station.
During their stay, they were also visited by a private mission, including three businessmen, who paid tens of millions of dollars each to spend two weeks aboard the ISS -- still carried by SpaceX.