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Four Space Station Crew Members Target Saturday for Return to Earth on SpaceX Dragon

The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship is pictured from a window aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship. Endurance is docked to the Harmony module’s forward-facing port while Endeavour is docked to Harmony’s space-facing port on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Four Expedition 68 crew members are nearing the end of their stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) this weekend. Their replacements are completing their first week aboard the orbital outpost and getting up to speed with life in space.

The SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance with four crewmates is targeted to depart the space station at 2:05 a.m. ESTEST is an abbreviation for Eastern Standard Time, the time zone for the eastern coast of the United States and Canada when observing standard time (autumn/winter). It is five hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the Kennedy Space Center are in the Eastern Time Zone (ET).” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>EST on Saturday and return to Earth less than 24 hours later. NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada will command and pilot Endurance respectively flanked by Koichi Wakata of JAXAFormed in 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was born through the merger of three institutions, namely the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA). JAXA performs various activities related to aerospace, from basic research in the aerospace field to development and utilization and is responsible for research, technology development, and launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in advanced missions such as asteroid exploration and possible human exploration of the Moon.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos. The foursome is due to splashdown off the coast of Florida at 9:19 p.m. on Saturday.

From left, are Expedition 68 Flight Engineers Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann from NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) posing for a fun portrait inside the International Space Station’s Kibo laboratory module. Credit: NASA

The quartet blasted off toward the orbiting lab as the SpaceX Crew-5 mission on October 5, 2022, and docked to the Harmony module’s forward port on October 6. A variety of crew ships and space freighters arrived and departed, numerous spacewalks were conducted, and a multitude of advanced space research took place during Crew-5’s five-month-long stay in space.

The station’s newest crew members are several days into their orbital residency after their arrival on March 3, as the SpaceX Crew-6 mission. The new flight engineers, Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg of NASA, Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Andrey Fedyaev of Roscosmos, have already begun a variety of space research and lab maintenance activities.

At top right, is the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter berthed to the International Space Station’s Unity module. The orbital outpost was soaring 262 miles above the English Channel off the coast of France in this nighttime photograph captured on February 28, 2023, from an external high-definition camera. Credit: NASA

The four new station residents have started exploring how microgravity affects the human body and picked a small tomato crop growing for a space agriculture study. They also spent Thursday afternoon familiarizing themselves with space station hardware and emergency equipment located throughout the space lab.

Three other space station residents, Commander Sergey Prokopyev, Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin, both from Roscosmos, and NASA Flight Engineer Frank Rubio, have been living in space since September 21. The trio spent the day stowing biological samples in a science freezer, packing cargo inside the Soyuz MS-22 spaceship, and servicing life support components. They will continue their station mission until later this year and return home inside the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship.

Source: SciTechDaily