SpaceX brings four astronauts back to Earth after a 200-day mission on the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese Akihiko Hoshide, and French Thomas Pesquet landed in the Gulf of Mexico.
On Monday, four astronauts returned to Earth in a SpaceX capsule, ending a 200-day mission on the International Space Station that began last spring.
His capsule streaked through the night sky like a dazzling meteor before parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. The recovery boats were quickly mobilized with searchlights.
SpaceX Mission Control radio from Southern California. Within an hour, four astronauts were out of the capsule, exchanging fists with the team on the recovery ship.
Its return home - barely eight hours after leaving the space station - set to launch four alternate astronauts for SpaceX, which could be Wednesday night.
Originally the replacements were to start first, but NASA changed the order due to bad weather and a health problem for an astronaut, the nature of which was not disclosed.
So now they will welcome the Americans and the two Russians who are still on the space station.
Before opening Monday afternoon, German astronaut Matthias Moorer, waiting to take off at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, tweeted that it was a shame that the two crew could not meet on the space station, but "we are sure." That will leave everything well and clean. "
He will be the fourth SpaceX crew to fly for NASA in just a year and a half.
NASA astronauts Shane Combro and Megan MacArthur, Japan's Akihiko Hoshide, and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet were due to return Monday morning.
Still, the strong winds in the recovery zone forced their return to Earth to be delayed.
Bittersweet feeling leaving the Space Station. A magical place in the sky that grants superpowers like floating and seeing Europe-Africa at a glance. Thank you to the people who built it for the benefit of all. It gives me hope that humans can achieve anything, with good intentions, when we want to. "Pesquet tweeted along with images of the Space Station illuminated against the darkness of space and Earth.
From the space station, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei said goodbye to each of his departing friends midway through a year-long flight and told McArthur: "I will miss hearing your laughter in the modules. adjacent".
Before returning, the four astronauts toured the space station, taking pictures. This was a first for SpaceX. NASA's shuttles used to do it all the time before they retired a decade ago. The last time a Russian capsule did it was three years ago.
It was not the most comfortable return trip. The toilet in their capsule was broken, leaving the astronauts to rely on diapers for the eight-hour journey home. Nevertheless, they shrugged late last week as just one more challenge on their mission.
The first problem arose shortly after taking off in April; Mission Control noticed that a piece of space debris threatened to collide with his capsule. It turned out to be a false alarm. Then in July, thrusters from a newly arrived Russian laboratory inadvertently ignited and put the station into a spin. The four astronauts took refuge in their docked SpaceX capsule, ready to launch a hasty departure if necessary.
Among the mission milestones: four spacewalks to improve the station's solar energy, a filming visit by a Russian film crew, and the first space harvest of chile peppers.
The next crew will also spend six months there, welcoming back-to-back tour groups. A Japanese tycoon and his assistant will receive a ticket from the Russian Space Agency in December, followed by three businessmen who will arrive via SpaceX in February. SpaceX's first privately chartered flight, in September, bypassed the space station.
Kathy Lueders, NASA's chief of space operations, said engineers would assess the lagging inflation of one of the four main parachutes. However, overall, "the comeback seemed flawless."
"I can't tell you how excited I am to see all four of the crew back on Earth," she added, "and I can't wait to launch another group of four this week."