Four astronauts who make up the Crew-5 team aboard the International Space Station returned home from a five-month stay in space Saturday, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule disembarked from the space station at 2:20 am ET, beginning the final leg of the astronauts’ journey. The spacecraft then maneuvered back toward Earth before plunging back into the atmosphere for a landing off the coast of Tampa, Florida just after 9 p.m. ET Saturday.
Rescue ships awaited the team’s arrival, ready to haul the capsule out of the ocean and allow the crew to disembark, giving the astronauts their first breath of fresh air in nearly 160 days.
The four crew members — NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA, or Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of the Russian space agency Roscosmos — launched to the space station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule this past October. They’ve spent the past few months carrying out research experiments and keeping up with maintenance of the two-decade-old orbiting laboratory.
And for the few days leading up to their departure, the Crew-5 astronauts had been handing off operations to the Crew-6 team, which arrived at the space station on March 3.