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SpaceX astronauts return home after 5-month mission


The space station’s four astronauts returned to Earth late Saturday night after a quick flight home to SpaceX.

Their capsule went down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida near Tampa.

The US-Russian-Japanese crew spent five months on the International Space Station, arriving last October. In addition to avoiding space debris, the astronauts had to deal with a pair of leaking Russian capsules attached to an orbital outpost and the urgent delivery of a replacement ship for the rest of the station’s crew.

Led by NASA’s Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman in space, the astronauts left the station early Saturday morning. Less than 19 hours later, their Dragon capsule was spinning in the sea while they waited for a pickup.

Earlier in the week, high winds and tidal waves kept the station a few extra days. Their replacements arrived over a week ago.

“It was an unfortunate ride,” Mann said over the radio moments after the dispersal. “We are happy to be at home.”

Mann, a member of the Wailacki Indian Tribes of Northern California’s Round Valley, said she can’t wait to feel the wind on her face, the smell of fresh grass and the delicious earthy food.

Japanese cosmonaut Koichi Wakata craved sushi, while Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina wanted to drink hot tea “from a real cup, not a plastic bag.”

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada’s bucket list included getting a rescue dog for his family. “Please don’t tell our two cats,” she joked before leaving the space station.

Three Americans, three Russians and one from the United Arab Emirates remained behind the space station.

Japan’s spaceflight champion Wakata has now logged more than 500 days in space in five missions dating back to NASA’s shuttle era.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Science and Education Media Group of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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