TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After more than six months orbiting Earth in the International Space Station, the four astronauts from NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission returned home on Monday.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida just after 10:30 p.m. ET.
It took the astronauts just about eight hours to make it back to Earth in their Crew Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour. The spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station at 2:05 p.m. and then performed its first-ever 360-degree fly-around of the station.
Endeavor then moved away from the space station to carry the four astronauts back to Earth.
“Get home safely… it’s been great being part of your team,” NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, now the lone remaining American astronaut aboard the International Space Station, told Crew-2 in a parting message.
Now that the four Crew-2 astronauts are back home safely, NASA and SpaceX are shifting the focus to launching Crew-3.
Crew-2 was originally supposed to be on the International Space Station to welcome the four new Crew-3 mission astronauts. The Crew-3 launch was supposed to happen on Halloween but was delayed several times due to weather and medical issues. NASA decided late last week to hold off on launching Crew-3 until Crew-2 had returned home.
NASA and SpaceX are now targeting a launch of the Crew-3 mission no earlier than 9:03 p.m. on Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center.