SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts wrap up six-month ISS mission

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts are fast approaching the end of their six-month stay on the International Space Station

NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, along with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Matthias Maurer, are scheduled to begin their journey back to Earth aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft just after 5 p.m. ET ( 2 p.m. PT) on Wednesday, May 4.

“Finishing the Dragon suit crates and a view of our SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance capsule,” Maurer tweeted on Sunday. “Soon it’s time to go back to Earth and I can’t wait to get home, but I’m also getting a little melancholy that it will soon be time to say goodbye.”

Fill the Dragon costume crates & a view of our @SpaceX Capsule Crew Dragon Endurance ๐Ÿ‰๐Ÿš€ Soon it’s time to return to Earth & I can’t wait to get home, but I’m also a little nostalgic that it will soon be time to say goodbye. #Crew3 #CosmicKiss pic.twitter.com/HTLA2J44uo

โ€” Matthias Maurer (@astro_matthias) May 1, 2022

Crew-3 soared into space atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 11, 2021, before arriving at the ISS later the same day. For all but Marshburn, this was the astronauts’ first orbital mission.

During their time aboard the ISS, the crew of four worked on numerous scientific experiments, conducted spacewalks for maintenance and upgrades, communicated with earthlings via a series of special events to share their experiences of living in microgravity conditions, and also found time to enjoy the exclusive views from the most exciting living quarters ever built.

The departure of Crew-3 will free up space inside the orbital outpost. After the arrival of four Crew-4 astronauts last week, the number of inhabitants of the ISS has increased to 11, five more than the usual number of crew members.

The past few weeks have been busy at the station. Along with the arrival of Crew-4 and the imminent departure of Crew-3, the ISS also recently welcomed NASA’s first private astronaut crew. Organized by Texas-based Axiom Space and using SpaceX transport hardware, the Ax-1 mission would have cost each participant about $55 million.

As for the Crew-3 astronauts, they will soon be traversing space in their Crew Dragon capsule, entering the atmosphere at high speed before performing a parachute-assisted immersion off the coast of Florida.

When recently asked what he was most looking forward to when he got home, Maurer said: “I can’t wait to see my family and friends again, but also to be outside, to feel planet Earth … the richness of nature.”

Asked what he was least looking forward to, Maurer replied, โ€œGravity,โ€ noting that adjusting to it can be a challenge.

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