Crew-5 mission ends with Florida splashdown

WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down off the Florida coast March 11, returning four people from the International Space Station after more than five months in space.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance splashed down at the primary landing location west of Tampa, Florida, at 9:02 p.m. Eastern. The splashdown took place nearly 19 hours after the spacecraft undocked from the station.

The splashdown marked the end of the 157-day Crew-5 mission that started with an Oct. 5 launch on a Falcon 9. NASA astronaut Nicole Mann commanded the mission, with fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada serving as pilot. JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina were mission specialists on Crew-5.

Endruance departed the station eight days after the arrival of another Crew Dragon, Endeavour, on the Crew-6 mission. It delivered to the station NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, Emirati astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. They will remain on the station for about six months, when they are relieved by the Crew-7 mission.

SpaceX will conduct two commercial Crew Dragon missions before Crew-7. The Ax-2 mission for Axiom Space is tentatively scheduled for May, going to the ISS for about 10 days. It will feature former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson as commander and John Shoffner, a customer, as pilot along with Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Alqarni.

Polaris Dawn, a Crew Dragon mission that is part of billionaire Jared Isaacman’s Polaris Program of private astronaut missions, is expected to launch in the summer, Isaacman said Feb. 23. Isaacman will command the mission with Scott “Kidd” Poteet as pilot and SpaceX employees Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon as mission specialists. The five-day mission will not dock with the ISS but instead conduct other tasks, including the first spacewalk from a Crew Dragon.

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