NASA’s Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station is finally homebound as it caps off a six-month journey.
The four Crew-3 astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft are expected to splash down near the Florida coast at 12:43 a.m. Friday, the space agency said.
The Endurance crew, consisting of American astronauts Tom Marshburn, 61, of Statesville, NC, Raja Chari, 44, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Kayla Barron, 34, of Pocatello, Idaho, along with German ESA crewmate Matthias Maurer, 52, arrived on the ISS in November.
The crew spent the past six months contributing to hundreds of scientific investigations and technology demonstrations that help preparations for future space exploration missions, NASA said.
Video footage on NASA’s live webcast showed the spacecraft drifting away from the station.
Speaking ahead of takeoff on NASA’s live webcast, Marshburn told Soyuz cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who monitored the descent, “Just wanted to say a couple of words about what it’s meant to us to be here. A hundred years from now, we’ll be looking back on the ISS as an incredible engineering accomplishment.
“Oleg, you’re a very strong and experienced cosmonaut, I know we’ll be leaving the space station in good hands with you.”
The crew was scheduled to return to Earth on Thursday, but NASA’s head of human spaceflight, Kathy Lueders, said the extra day in space will allow forecasters more time to review the weather in Florida.
Lueders tweeted, “Mission teams are ‘Go’ for #Crew3 astronauts’ return after a review of the weather forecast. Dragon will undock at 1:05am ET Thurs, May 5 from @Space_Station. Splashdown off of Florida’s coast is planned about 12:43am Fri, May 6.”
In April, Axiom Space completed its first all-private mission to the ISS after three paying customers and a former NASA astronaut splashed down in a SpaceX Dragon in the Atlantic Ocean.
The planned 10-day Axiom-1 mission turned into a 17-day mission after control waved off several attempts to bring the private crew home because of bad weather around the Florida peninsula at any potential splashdown sites.
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