After spending six months on the International Space Station, four astronauts have returned to Earth. On Monday, their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft made a splashdown touchdown off the coast of Florida. The Axion 2 crew embarked a quite “off the plan” journey.
On Sunday at 7:05 a.m. ET, the astronauts, who were taking part in NASA and SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission, left the space station. As it navigated through Earth’s orbit and toward its intended landing spot off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, where they touched down around midnight ET, the crew spent the day inside the 13-foot-wide Crew Dragon craft.
The Crew-6 team consists of four astronauts: Warren “Woody” Hoburg and Stephen Bowen from NASA, Sultan Alneyadi, the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to venture into space, and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.
The final stage of the Crew Dragon capsule’s fall saw the spacecraft’s exterior heat up to roughly 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit as it ripped down into the densest region of Earth’s atmosphere while moving at a speed of more than 17,000 miles per hour. The heat barrier protecting the occupants within the spacecraft’s cabin should have maintained a pleasant temperature much below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Axiom Mission 2 crew, which consisted of one retired NASA astronaut and three paying customers, one an American businessman and two Saudi Arabian astronauts, was also hosted by the Crew-6 astronauts throughout their stay. This voyage was a component of a strategy to boost commercial activity in low-Earth orbit by frequently transporting tourists and other paying customers to the International Space Station.
The Axiom Mission 2
Axiom Station, the first commercial space station in the world and the ISS’s replacement, is being built as a result of Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) by Axiom Space, the company’s second all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
May 21 saw the launch of the Ax-2 crew. The four-member Axiom Space crew launched into orbit in SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 rocket to take part in the mission. They will work and live in the orbiting laboratory to carry out a full slate of scientific, educational, and commercial activities.