After spending almost 186 days in space, and 184 of those days onboard the International Space Station (ISS), the SpaceX Crew-6 mission consisting of four astronauts safely splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on September 4, marking a successful end to the sixth commercial crew mission to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The international crew consisted of NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, along with Roscosmos astronaut Andrey Fedyaev and United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who all flew to NASA’s Johnson Space Center after their SpaceX Dragon capsule was safely ashore.
SpaceX Crew-7 Dragon capsule seen spalshing down just after 12am EDT on September 4, 2023 after their six-month stay on the INternational Space Station. (Credit; NASA)
“After spending six months aboard the International Space Station, logging nearly 79 million miles during their mission, and completing hundreds of scientific experiments for the benefit of all humanity, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 has returned home to planet Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in an official statement. “This international crew represented three nations, but together they demonstrated humanity’s shared ambition to reach new cosmic shores. The contributions of Crew-6 will help prepare NASA to return to the Moon under Artemis, continue onward to Mars, and improve life here on Earth.”
Along with the multitude of scientific and technological experiments they carried out during their six-month residence on the ISS, three of the four astronauts conducted several spacewalks to prepare the ISS for installing two new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays (IROSAs), which will contribute to improved power production on the orbiting laboratory.
In total, Bowen conducted three spacewalks, Hoburg conducted two, and Al Neyadi conducted one. This mission also marked Bowen’s fourth time to space, as he previously flew on STS-126, STS-132, and STS-133, along with being the first spaceflight for each of the other three crew members.
While onboard the ISS, the astronauts examined how plant genetics adapt to space, assisted in a student robotic challenge, and released the first satellite from Saskatchewan, whose goal will be to test a new radiation identification and shielding system procured from melanin, which exists in humans and a myriad of other organisms.
The return of Crew-6 occurs mere days after the arrival of SpaceX Crew-7 at the ISS, which occurred on August 27. This arrival/return sequence runs in tandem with previous SpaceX Crew Dragon missions to the ISS in that the previous mission embarks the ISS once the next crew arrives.
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