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NASA, SpaceX Mission: Astronauts returning from the International Space Station

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Four astronauts board the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and are due to return home from the International Space Station on Friday, ending their nearly six-month stay in an orbiting laboratory.

Astronauts Shell Lindgren, Bob Hynes and Jessica Watkins of NASA and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) said goodbye to other astronauts on the space station. We exchanged hugs and boarded the spaceship around 10am.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft will leave the ISS docking port around noon ET and gradually lose altitude with several engine fires. Splashes are expected Friday afternoon off the coast of Florida.

The crew was originally scheduled to leave the space station on Wednesday night, but the ground crew declined the attempt due to inclement weather. Storms also made his second try on Thursday morning’s return.

As of Thursday afternoon, NASA was monitoring potential weather issues at the crew’s designated landing site, noting that a cold front was passing over Florida. Meteorological officials were confident Friday’s weather would be better as a high pressure system moved into the area.

Weather delays for spacecraft launches and returns from space stations are common, especially as unpredictable storms hit the impact point off the coast of Florida.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft that returns astronauts typically has seven potential landing zones off the coast of Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, and Daytona. and Jacksonville.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting Jacksonville for a water landing on Friday.

The mission, called Crew-4, was a historic first, and Watkins became the first black woman to join a space station crew for an extended stay.

During their stay, the astronauts conducted scientific experiments, including studying how to grow vegetables in space without soil, and studying the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

These experiments show how astronauts will one day grow their own food, and how their bodies will behave on missions deeper into space, such as NASA’s planned Artemis lunar mission. It’s designed to help you understand how to react, Watkins said at a news briefing last week.

“Walking into the Columbus module and being able to smell the growing leaves and growing plants was awesome,” Watkins told reporters.

Cristoforetti made history on this mission, having participated in missions to the space station in 2014-2015, being the only woman on the ESA astronaut squad. Last month, she became the commander of the space station, becoming the first European woman to do so.

Cristoforetti also performed a spacewalk in July, deploying a small satellite and installing a new robotic arm outside the space station.

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