After spending six months in space, Indian American astronaut Raja Chari began his journey back home. The astronaut along with three others strapped himself to the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on Thursday as it undocked from the International Space Station.
Chari, who is commander of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission, is returning to Earth with Nasa astronauts Kayla Barron, Tom Marshburn, and European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer. The Dragon spacecraft named Endurance will fly over Earth performing several d-orbit maneuvers to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown off the coast of Florida.
The spacecraft undocked from the forward port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module after remaining in zero gravity for six months. The Crew-3 mission launched on November 10 on a Falcon 9 rocket from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked at the space station on November 11.
They will be carrying some 250 kilograms of cargo with them on their flight back to Earth.
SpaceX, the California-based company founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of electric carmarker Tesla, who recently clinched a deal to buy social media platform Twitter, has launched a total of seven human spaceflights over the past two years.
Dragon separation confirmed! The spacecraft will now execute four departure burns to move away from the @space_station. Dragon will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown in ~23.5 hours pic.twitter.com/1sZIe1H7UB
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 5, 2022
“The end of a most beautiful mission the dream continues,” Matthias Maurer said.
Ahead of departing from the ISS, the Crew-3 handed over the ongoing experiments to the Crew-4 that arrived earlier this week. “Handing over @Space_Station duties to @NASA_Astronauts from Crew4. Starting XROOTS experiment to pave way for better plant growing tech for NASA, Artemis & farmers on Earth,” Chari said in a tweet.
The XRoots experiment is one of the biggest experiments underway in zero gravity, which aims to cultivate ad grow plants without soil, that could pave way for continuous food supply for astronauts headed to the Moon and Mars in the future. The Crew-4 will use hydroponic (liquid-based) and aeroponic (air-based) techniques to grow plants without soil.
The Dragon spacecraft is set to execute four departure burns to move away from the Space Station and will take nearly 24 hours to hit the Floridian waters.