‘Bittersweet day’: Space-X splashdown with Indian-origin astronaut aboard| Video

A SpaceX spacecraft – carrying four astronauts – made a touchdown on Friday after spending nearly six months at the International Space Station. The SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft made a splashdown off the coast of Florida at 12:43 am local time (10:13 am Friday in IST.) Launched in November 2021, the crew returned to Earth with some 550 pounds (250 kg) of cargo, including loads of ISS research samples.

In a video shared by the Elon Musk-led SpaceX, two sets of parachutes can be seen swelling open above the spacecraft in the final stage of descent slowing its fall as the craft hit the water off the coast of Tampa. “Splashdown of Dragon confirmed – welcome back to Earth, @Astro_Raja, @astroMarshburn, @astro_matthias, and @astro_kayla,” SpaceX tweeted.

Meet the astronauts

Riding aboard the Dragon capsule were Crew-3 commander Raja Chari, pilot Thomas Marshburn and mission specialist Kayla Barron of NASA, and mission specialist Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency.

“It’s been an interesting day for us. We’ve been flying around the station collecting our last-minute photos or last minute items and getting ready to come home, so a bit of a bittersweet day for all of us.” Marshburn said in a farewell ceremony as per news agency Reuters.

Hours after returning, Matthias Maurer of the ESA tweeted, “The end of a most beautiful mission – the dream continues”.

Ahead of his homecoming, Indian-origin astronaut Raja Chari said he was “handing over Space Station duties to NASA astronauts from Crew 4”. Crew 3’s return comes about a week after SpaceX launched Crew 4, including four more astronauts on a flight to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA on Wednesday.

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In another post shared by NASA, all four astronauts were seen coming out of the capsule, waving and giving thumbs-up as they were hustled away on rolling chaises for medical checks.

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of electric carmaker Tesla Inc, who recently clinched a deal to buy Twitter. California-based SpaceX has launched seven human spaceflights in all over the past two years – five for NASA and two for private ventures – as well as dozens of cargo and satellite payload missions since 2012, according to reports.

With inputs from news agencies