After a record-setting mission to the International Space Station on Sunday, three astronauts returning to Earth after 197 days in space landed on Dragon by SpaceX Sunday morning, according to a post by the company on Twitter. Meanwhile, the last of four spaceflyers to arrive on NASA’s commercial crew spacecraft, Alvin Drew and Nicole Mann, who arrived in early October, rocketed back to earth.
As the final flight gets underway, we want to take a moment to thank our four crewmembers. For 197 days in space, they built the space station with equipment in hand and taught us valuable lessons. #CislunarReturn pic.twitter.com/tCzqAPOo2a — SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 28, 2018
The return of Nicholas Patrick and Eric Boe, and Drew and Mann means that NASA has landed a total of 11 crew members safely back on Earth since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.
Crew2Rise and Return is set to start Sunday, October 28 at 10:20 PM EST. We’re ready to kick off one of the most challenging missions of the year. Thank you to our crew for putting us through the ringer and for the incredible hospitality in space! https://t.co/AQ8Ow7ePtN — SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 27, 2018
For the second time this year, SpaceX returned a rocket booster to its first-stage landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, another milestone in a series of repeated explosions and landings for the world’s most influential rocket maker, which has been reinvigorated by its relationship with NASA. NASA officials have put SpaceX in the strong position of holding the title of world’s best reusable rocket system, just as SpaceX tries to prove that it can develop a vehicle capable of flying a crewed mission on its Falcon Heavy for next year. If everything goes smoothly, SpaceX and Boeing will begin transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station aboard the commercial human-rating vehicles in the next three years, and by then the crew space needed to launch people will no longer be available in NASA’s aging rockets and spacecrafts.
Read the full story at The New York Times.
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