NASA astronauts return to Earth

SpaceX returned its fourth operational crew mission from the International Space Station on Friday, with the quartet of astronauts landing in the company’s capsule off the coast of Florida.

The company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft Freedom undocked from the ISS around noon ET to begin the journey back to Earth, with the splashdown occurring around 5 p.m. ET.

“Welcome home – thank you for flying SpaceX,” the company’s mission control told the crew shortly after landing.

“Thank you for an incredible ride to orbit and an incredible ride home,” replied Crew 4 Commander Kjell Lindgren.

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Crew-4 includes NASA astronauts Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. The mission launched in April for a six-month stay at the orbiting research laboratory.

The Crew 4 astronauts, from left: Jessica Watkins, Mission Specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, Commander; and Samantha Cristoforetti, Mission Specialist.

Kim Shiflett | NASA

Elon Musk’s company launched the Crew 5 mission last week, bringing four more astronauts to the ISS.

SpaceX has flown 30 people into orbit since its first manned launch in May 2020, with six government missions and two private missions.

SpaceX’s Freedom Crew Dragon capsule has docked with the International Space Station.


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