A SpaceX capsule is bringing back a crew of four from a space station mission

Four crew members aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule plunged off the Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday, returning safely from a five-month science mission to the International Space Station.

SpaceX’s capsule, dubbed Endurance, parachuted into waters off the coast of Tampa just after 9 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT) carrying two NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut after a nearly nine-hour flight. From the Orbital Research Laboratory. Show the NASA-SpaceX webcast.

Crew-5 blasted off from Florida on Oct. 6 to conduct routine science aboard the station. They included astronaut Anna Kikina, 38, who became the first Russian to fly on a US spacecraft in 20 years, and NASA Flight Commander Nicole Onapu Mann, 45, the first Native American woman sent into orbit.

Also on board were NASA pilot Josh Kasada, 49, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, 59, a veteran of four previous spaceflights.

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Five NASA crew members leave their crew quarters for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, October 5, 2022. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, a gumdrop-shaped pod designed to launch SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, detached from the space station early Saturday morning and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at about 8:11 p.m. EDT (0111 p.m. EST). GMT Sunday), to withstand frictional heat that sent temperatures outside the capsule to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,930 degrees Celsius).

Two sets of parachutes were deployed to restrain the capsule’s descent to 15 mph (24 kph) just before the crash.

The mission was SpaceX’s sixth crewed flight for NASA since the Crew Dragon spacecraft first flew in May 2020, when it retrieved crewed launches from US soil nearly a decade after the US relied on Russia’s Soyuz program for space station flights.

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Kekina, the only woman in the Russian Aerospace Force, was the first Russian woman to fly on a US spacecraft under a renewed agreement signed in 2022 between NASA and the Russian Space Agency for joint flights. NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who is currently on the station, launched there on a Soyuz rocket in September.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette) Additional reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Diane Craft and Jamie Fried

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