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NASA's Crew-3 astronauts splash down in Gulf of Mexico
by Amy Thompson
Washington DC (UPI) May 5, 2021

After a 24-hour delay to be sure of weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean, NASA's Crew-3 returned to Earth on Friday with a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Florida.

NASA's Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Tom Marshburn and Germany's Matthias Maurer splashed down in their Dragon Endurance capsule at 12:43 a.m. EDT.

"We're glad to be back," Chari told the SpaceX team at mission control. "Thanks for letting us take Endurance on a shakedown cruise, looking forward to watching many more flights of Endurance in the future. It was a great ride."

Crew-3's departure was backed up by a day as officials worked to better understand weather conditions in the planned splashdown zones, with forecasters finally giving the all-clear to undock from the International Space Station on Wednesday.

SpaceX and NASA engineers monitored the forecast until it was time for a de-orbit burn to slow the spacecraft down enough to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.

Engineers choose the splashdown site from seven possible locations based on weather and sea states as the capsule approached for its landing with the ideal site having been off the coast of Cape Canaveral.

Following splashdown, recovery teams were deployed to hoist the capsule out of the water. The crew were then extracted and flown via helicopter to Cape Canaveral.

The crew said goodbye to the seven astronauts left on board ISS before boarding Endurance spacecraft and undocking from the station at 1:05 a.m. EDT.

After piloting itself away from ISS on Thursday, Endurance spent about 23 and a a half hours in space before its splashed down in the ocean on Friday.

Crew-3 launched to the space station on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 10, and arrived at ISS the next day to start their six-month mission.

After welcoming a private crew of astronauts to ISS for the first time, spending 16 days with Axiom Space's Ax-1 crew, Crew-3 then welcomed the astronauts that will take over for them -- Crew-4 -- and spent the last week bringing them up to speed on science work already in progress.

NASA's Crew-4 -- Kjell Lindgren, Jessica Watkins, and Bob Hines and the European Space Agency's Samantha Cristoforetti -- flew to the space station on April 27 for their own six-month mission.

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Astronaut crew returns to Earth after six months on ISS
Washington (AFP) May 6, 2022
NASA's Crew-3 mission returned home to Earth on Friday after six months aboard the International Space Station. The SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft with NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, undocked from the orbital laboratory a day earlier. Their 23.5 hour journey back saw them splash down off the coast of Florida at 12:43 am (0443 GMT). "On behalf of the entire SpaceX team, welcome home," a SpaceX officia ... read more

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