TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Floridians who happened to be out early Monday morning caught a glimpse of a fiery streak going across the moonlit sky just after midnight.
One witness in Zephyrhills described it as a “fireball” that went past Zephyrhills Park. Videos and photos showed a bright streak cutting through the dark sky.
However, it wasn’t a meteor or a UFO. Instead, it was a group of astronauts making their way back home to Earth.
The staff of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission splashed down in the SpaceX Dragon Endeavor just off of Jacksonville, Florida. after spending six months at the International Space Station.
The crew included NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, UAE astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. The team originally boarded the ISS on March 3, according to NASA.
Crew-6 worked on several hundred scientific experiments while on the ISS, which included studying plant genes and how they adapt to space and the effect of microgravity on human biology.
They also launched a new satellite from the University of Saskatchewan that detects radiation and protects against it using purified melanin, the pigment in your skin that protects against UV rays.
“After spending six months aboard the International Space Station, logging nearly 79 million miles during their mission, and completing hundreds of scientific experiments for the benefit of all humanity, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 has returned home to planet Earth,” said Administrator Bill Nelson. “This international crew represented three nations, but together they demonstrated humanity’s shared ambition to reach new cosmic shores. The contributions of Crew-6 will help prepare NASA to return to the Moon under Artemis, continue onward to Mars, and improve life here on Earth.”
Crew-6 was relieved by SpaceX Crew-7, who boarded the ISS on Aug. 27.