CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) — “Welcome home to planet Earth!” A SpaceX crew has safely returned to Earth.
Their Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola late Monday night.READ MORE: North Miami Beach PD Needs Help Locating 15-Year-old Jeimy Henrriquez
Now the four-member crew, consisting of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide and France’s Thomas Pesquet, is waiting to be picked up.
The Coast Guard is helping and created a 10-mile zone to keep boats away from the splashdown zone.
The undocking of their SpaceX capsule from the International Space Station also paved the way for a launch of their four replacements as early as Wednesday night. The newcomers were scheduled to launch first, but NASA switched the order because of bad weather and an astronaut’s undisclosed medical condition.
The returning astronauts should have been back Monday morning, but high wind in the recovery zone delayed their homecoming.READ MORE: Former US Rep. Carrie Meek Passes Away At 95
“One more night with this magical view. Who could complain? I’ll miss our spaceship!” Pesquet tweeted alongside a brief video showing the space station illuminated against the blackness of space and the twinkling city lights on the nighttime side of Earth.
Before leaving the neighborhood, the four took a spin around the space station to take pictures. This was the first time SpaceX attempted a fly around like this; NASA’s shuttles used to do it all the time before their retirement a decade ago.
It wasn’t the most comfortable ride back. The toilet in their capsule was broken, and so the astronauts needed to rely on diapers for the eight-hour trip home. They shrugged it off late last week as just one more challenge in their mission.
The first issue arose shortly after their April liftoff; Mission Control warned a piece of space junk was threatening to collide with their capsule. It turned out to be a false alarm. Then in July, thrusters on a newly arrived Russian lab inadvertently fired and sent the station into a spin. The four astronauts took shelter in their docked SpaceX capsule, ready to make a hasty departure if necessary.
Among the upbeat milestones: four spacewalks to enhance the station’s solar power, a movie-making visit by a Russian film crew and the first-ever space harvest of chile peppers. Their mission began last April.MORE NEWS: Officer Injured, Suspect Dead Following Coral Gables Police-Involved Shooting
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