I felt very heavy: four astronauts tell of their return to Earth with SpaceX

 Sylvie Claire / May 7, 2021


A soft landing and a unique experience , a little different from the landings aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft: the astronauts brought back Sunday from the International Space Station by the company SpaceX described Thursday their return to Earth, after over 160 days in space.


At one point, I was just saying to myself, breathe. Breathe in. Because I felt very heavy, said American Victor Glover, one of the four astronauts on the crew named Crew-1. Kind of like those cartoon characters when they're faced with the g-force (of acceleration), and their face contorts downward.


This was the first regular mission to be taken and then brought back from the ISS by billionaire Elon Musk's company.


The astronauts made the journey aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, which arrived in the sea off Florida on Saturday night.


I expected it to be such an ordeal that when it happened for real, it was a little less than I imagined, Victor Glover added at a press conference. The weight of the acceleration was concentrated in the chest, he described, which made it hard to breathe.


But takeoff and return are such unique experiences he stressed.


The impact was really minimal and right after the landing, you could feel the waves, described Soichi Noguchi from Japan. We're back on the blue planet, it's a great feeling.


NASA has contracted with SpaceX to resume launching astronauts into space from U.S. soil, which was no longer possible since 2011 with the end of the Space Shuttle. Until now, they were obliged to board Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which land on land.


Landing in the water was interesting, because none of us knew what to expect, said American Shannon Walker. From my perspective, it was a little bit smoother than coming in on land.


Soon, non-professional civilian astronauts will be riding in Dragon, for space tourism missions. Astronauts have been asked: will these ordinary men be able to cope with re-entry in this vehicle?


I think they'll be able to handle it just as well, replied American Mike Hopkins.


The latter was the first to raise his hand when asked if they would be willing to leave. And Victor Glover was the only one who did not.


I'm very happy to be on dry land and I'm going to enjoy it for a while, he explained with a big smile.

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