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NASA astronauts return to Earth

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SpaceX is set to return its fourth operational crew mission from the International Space Station on Friday, with the quartet of astronauts due to splash down in the company’s capsule off the coast of Florida.

The company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft “Freedom” undocked from the ISS at around noon ET to begin the trip back to Earth, with splashdown expected at around 4:55 p.m. ET.

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Crew-4 includes NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. The mission launched in April for a six-month stay on the orbiting research laboratory.

The Crew-4 astronauts, from left: Jessica Watkins, mission specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, commander; and Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist.

Kim Shiflett | NASA

Elon Musk’s company launched the Crew-5 mission last week, bringing four other astronauts to the ISS.

SpaceX has now flown 30 people to orbit since its first crewed launch in May 2020, with six government missions and two private ones.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule Freedom docked to the International Space Station.


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