A few hours ago, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft concluded its Crew-3, or SpaceX Crew-3, mission on behalf of NASA by splashing down without problems. On board were astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer, who reached the International Space Station on November 11, 2021, and were part of Expedition 66 and 67. The four completed the second regular manned mission of SpaceX in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Tampa, Florida. The Crew Dragon departed the Station almost exactly one day ago.
During the descent, the four parachutes of the Crew Dragon Endurance opened regularly. At the end of the Crew-2 mission, there was a small problem with its sibling Endeavour’s parachutes with a delay in one of the parachutes’ opening but this time everything went smoothly. Shortly after the splashdown, the SpaceX ship named “Shannon” went to retrieve the Endurance and its crew to transport them to the coast. The astronauts also received their first medical checkup.
On Wednesday, May 4, Thomas Marshburn officially handed over command of the International Space Station to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. However, in this case, there’s a continuation of Expedition 67. After the Crew Dragon spacecraft entered service, crew turnover occurs more often and the consequence is that there are commander changes within the same Expedition, which is divided into different parts.
The satisfaction in the USA about being independent from Russia for the transport of its astronauts has certainly grown along with the new tensions between the two nations. Russia intends to push on plans to abandon the International Space Station even if it sent its two new modules into orbit over a decade later than the original schedule. Despite the tensions, during the ceremony for the handover of the Station’s command, the words from astronauts and cosmonauts were in the name of friendship and peace.
The Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft has completed its first space mission and will be checked up and refurbished like the others after each return to Earth. If the checks are positive, it will be used already in the next SpaceX mission, the Crew-5.