March 12th, 2023
Three astronauts and a cosmonaut returned to Earth in their Crew Dragon spacecraft after spending over five months in orbit aboard the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina splashed down off the coast of Tampa, Florida, at 9:02 p.m. EST March 11 (02:02 UTC March 12), 2023, concluding the 157-day Crew-5 mission.
“That was one heck of a ride!” Mann said following splashdown. “We’re happy to be home. Looking forward to next time.”
According to NASA, the crew circled the Earth some 2,512 times aboard the ISS, traveling more than 66 million miles.
“Welcome home, Crew-5!” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This international crew has been conducting critical science experiments and technology demonstrations on the International Space Station that will help prepare us for future deep space missions and pave the way for our return to the Moon. Each advancement these explorers make is not an achievement for one, but a giant leap for all of humanity.”
Crew-5 launched Oct. 5, 2022, atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the second flight for the spacecraft used, Crew Dragon Endurance. They docked to the International Space Station less than a day later to begin their stay aboard the outpost as part of Expedition 68.
This was the first flight for Mann, Cassada and Kikina. For Wakata, however, this was his fifth spaceflight over his 31-year career as an astronaut. He has accumulated a total of 505 days in space — the most for a Japanese astronaut.
Replaced by the Crew-6 mission
The Crew-5 quartet were replaced by the Crew-6 mission, which launched March 3 with NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.
When they reached the space station a day later, the outpost’s population grew to 11 people. The other three aboard were Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, as well as NASA Frank Rubio, who launched to space last September aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.
Crew-6 is slated to return to Earth six months from now in late summer. Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio are currently scheduled to return to Earth in a Soyuz spacecraft in September, after spending roughly a year in orbit.
Crew-5 splashdown. Video courtesy of NASA
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity.