After roughly six months aboard the International Space Station, the Crew-4 astronauts have returned to Earth, splashing down off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida on Friday, October 14.
Crew-4 launched on their Falcon 9 rocket off LC-39A on the early morning of April 27. They arrived at the ISS later that day, and have spent their time on the station since working on various scientific experiments. These range from aging and health experiments to plant growth, water reclamation membranes, and even outreach to students back on the ground all around the world.
- Commander, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren
- Pilot, NASA astronaut Bob Hines
- Mission Specialist 1, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti
- Mission Specialist 2, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins
After departure was delayed a few days due to splashdown weather, at around noon ET on Friday October 14, Crew Dragon Freedom undocked from the International Space Station and began its first departure burns.
A few hours later, at around 3:54 p.m., the deorbit sequence began, slowing the capsule and starting its reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
During reentry there is a communication blackout due to the extremely high speed and friction with the atmosphere creating hot plasma surrounding it. If you are in the right location of the south-eastern US, you may have even caught a glimpse of the capsule flying overhead. This plasma is most visible at night, but even during the daytime some spectators are able to catch a glimpse if they look up at the right time.
With this successful splashdown shortly before 5 p.m., Crew Dragon Freedom will be brought onto SpaceX’s recovery ship Megan, and the astronauts will be taken by helicopter back to land. Some of the more time-sensitive cargo may also be transported in this way, until the capsule completes its journey back through Port Canaveral and then to Kennedy Space Center.