Four NASA Crew-5 Astronauts, Cosmonauts Splash Down Safely

Credit: NASA TV

HOUSTON—The four NASA SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts returned safely to Earth late March 11, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, Florida, to end a 157-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Crew-5 Dragon Endurance capsule with NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina splashed down autonomously at 9:02 p.m. EST after undocking from the forward port of the ISS's U.S. segment Harmony module at 2:20 a.m. EST.

The undocking was followed by several hours of light duty for the foursome, followed by an 11-min. deorbit maneuver that began at 8:11 p.m. EST.

"One heckuva of a ride," Mann told NASA and SpaceX mission controllers. "We are happy to be home."

NASA and SpaceX personnel aboard the company's "Shannon" recovery vessel, assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard, secured the capsule and pulled it aboard before opening Endurance's hatch 40 min. after splashdown to assist Mann, Cassada, Wakata and Kikina out of the spacecraft for medical checks. 

Next, they were to be flown ashore by helicopter before boarding a NASA aircraft to be transported to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The Crew-5 foursome launched and docked to the ISS over Oct. 5-6, 2022. The mission was the second for the reusable Endurance capsule.

Their NASA SpaceX Crew-6 replacements—NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev—launched and docked to the ISS on March 2-3 to begin a six-month mission.

The Crew-6 Endeavour foursome joined Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev, the current ISS Expedition 68 commander, fellow cosmonaut Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio. They launched and docked to the ISS on Sept. 21 aboard Russia's Soyuz MS-22 crew transport, which experienced a coolant leak Dec. 14 while docked to the ISS Russian segment.

Their damaged crew transport was replaced with the arrival of the uncrewed Soyuz MS-23 on Feb. 25, two days after launching to support an extended stay aboard the ISS by Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio.

Next up for the seven-member U.S., UAE and Russian ISS crew is the scheduled launch of the 27th SpaceX Cargo Dragon mission, with crew supplies and science and technology cargo. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon resupply capsule is planned for March 14 at 8:30 p.m. EDT. Docking at the ISS U.S. segment port vacated by the Crew-5 Dragon is planned for March 16 at 7:07 a.m. EDT.

Mark Carreau

Mark is based in Houston, where he has written on aerospace for more than 25 years. While at the Houston Chronicle, he was recognized by the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation in 2006 for his professional contributions to the public understanding of America's space program through news reporting.