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The Crew-5 crew of astronauts from the International Space Station started their return journey home Saturday morning. This marked the end to a five-month-long stay in space.
At 2:20 AM ET, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule departed the space station. This marked the beginning of the last leg of the astronauts’ journey. At 9:20 PM, the spacecraft will splash down in Florida. ET Saturday.
The team will arrive at the rescue ships, which will pull the capsule from the ocean. Once the crew has disembarked, they can embark on the journey to give the astronauts fresh air for the first time in almost 160 days. The crew will soon depart for NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston.
The crew consisted of NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada and astronaut Koichi Wakata (JAXA), and cosmonaut Anna Kikina (Russian space agency Roscosmos) who launched to the station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule in October. The crew has been busy over the past months conducting research and maintaining the orbiting laboratory, which is now two decades old.
The four astronauts have been passing on operations to Crew-6, the crew of astronauts that arrived at the station on March 3rd.
Meet the crew
Mann, who is a member of the Wailacki tribe on the Round Valley reservation and a registered Native American woman, was the first Native American woman in orbit. She spent time on her journey, just like the other astronauts to public outreach. Some of these outreach activities were focused on instilling Indigenous children. Mann displayed a dreamcatcher, a Native American totem meant to protect against bad dreams, at one outreach event held in November 2022.
Mann stated that he was proud to represent Native Americans, and his heritage, before the launch. "I believe it's important that we celebrate our diversity, but also recognize how important it is to collaborate and unite and the amazing achievements that we can achieve.
As part of a ride sharing agreement between NASA and Roscosmos, Kikina was able to participate in the flight in July 2022. Despite the growing geopolitical tensions in the USA and Russia, NASA insists that its partnership with Roscosmos will be vital for the station's continued operations and scientific research.
This was Mann, Cassada, and Kikina's first space trip.
Wakata has previously flown on NASA's Soyuz and Soyuz spacecrafts. This was the fifth spaceflight mission of the Japanese astronaut.