Miami, Oct 14 (EFE).- NASA’s Crew-4 mission, the maiden flight of American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Freedom” spacecraft, ended Friday with a splash-down in Atlantic waters off the northeast coast of Florida.
That landing, which brought an end to a nearly six-month International Space Station mission, occurred without incident and on schedule at 4.55 pm near the city of Jacksonville, Florida.
Arriving at their destination were commander Kjell Lindgren and his NASA colleagues Jessica Watkins and Bob Hines, as well as the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti.
The Crew Dragon Freedom spacecraft was eased into the ocean by four parachutes.
Five minutes later, two small SpaceX boats secured the capsule, with Elon Musk’s company confirming the success of the landing shortly afterward on Twitter: “Splashdown of Dragon confirmed – welcome back to Earth.”
The capsule undocked from the ISS on Friday after its return to Earth had been delayed on two occasions for weather-related reasons.
The undocking of the Dragon Freedom occurred as the ISS was orbiting some 423 kilometers (263 miles) above the Atlantic Ocean.
The ISS travels at 28,163 km (17,500 miles) per hour and at that speed orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, meaning that the members of the expedition witnessed sunrise and sunset at 45-minute intervals during their 170-day mission.
SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission – the Crew Dragon’s fourth NASA Commercial Crew operational flight – arrived at the ISS on April 27 for a six-month scientific mission and conducted numerous experiments.
One of them studied microgravity-induced changes in human immune cells that are similar to the changes associated with aging on Earth.
Another experiment examined a concrete alternative made from a mixture of an organic compound and silica, which is found in lunar and Martian dust.
“Using resources available on site for construction on other planetary bodies reduces the need to take along materials, lowering cost and freeing up space on long-term missions,” NASA said. “This process also could offer an environmentally friendly concrete alternative for making structures on Earth.”
Crew-4’s replacement mission – SpaceX Crew-5 – arrived at the ISS last week.
Using Crew Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX since 2020 has been providing commercially operated crew transportation service to and from the ISS under contract to NASA. EFE