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2024-03-12 19:20:40

Space station crew splash down in Gulf of Mexico

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Space station crew splash down in Gulf of Mexico

Four astronauts splashed down off Florida in the Gulf of Mexico on their return to Earth early Tuesday, following a more than six-month mission on the International Space Station, reports BSS.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft landed in the waters off Pensacola at 5:47 am (0947 GMT), with a NASA thermal camera showing all four of its drogue parachutes had deployed for the night-time landing after their 18-and-a-half-hour journey from the ISS.

Led by US astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, who was making her first spaceflight, NASA's Crew-7 arrived at the research platform last August aboard the same SpaceX Crew Dragon that took them back to Earth.

Andreas Mogensen of Denmark, Satoshi Furukawa of Japan, and Russian cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov were also on board.

"It was great to see Crew-7 back home and well. What a way to start a morning," said NASA's Rebecca Turkington, who was on board the recovery vessel.

The capsule was retrieved from the sea less than half an hour after splashdown, with the crew waving to the recovery team as they opened the hatch.

Space remains a rare area of cooperation between the United States and Russia despite the invasion of Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin's ambitions to reshape the global balance of power.

US astronauts also continue to fly aboard Russian Soyuz rockets that launch from Kazakhstan.

During a farewell ceremony on Sunday, Moghbeli paid tribute to the post-Cold War international partnership that paved the way for the construction of the ISS in the 1990s.

"It's an indication of what we can do when we work together," she said.

"To think back to when this was just a dream itself, and the people that had the vision, the grit and the courage to pursue this orbiting laboratory in low Earth orbit, I'm really proud to be a part of this."

The members of Crew-7 carried out science experiments including collecting samples during a spacewalk to determine whether the station releases microorganisms through life support system vents. Another assessed how microgravity, which accelerates aging, affects liver regeneration.

Crew-7 is the seventh routine NASA mission to the orbital platform for Elon Musk's SpaceX, with the first coming in 2020. The latest, Crew-8, launched on March 4.

NASA pays SpaceX for the taxi service as part of a US program put in place to reduce dependency on Russian rockets following the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

Boeing is the other contracted private partner, but its program has fallen behind. It now plans to fly its first crew in May.

The first segment of the ISS was launched in 1998, and it has been continuously inhabited by an international crew since 2001.

Its operations are set to continue until at least 2030, after which it will be decommissioned and crash into the ocean. Several private companies are working on commercial space stations to replace it, while China has already established its own orbital lab.

Bd-pratidin English/Tanvir Raihan

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