Mission Crew-6 accomplished: the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft has come back to Earth

The Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft during its descent (Image NASA TV)
The Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft during its descent (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft concluded its Crew-6, or SpaceX Crew-6, mission for NASA by landing without problems. On board were astronauts Sultan Alneyadi, Woody Hoburg, and Stephen Bowen and cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, who had reached the International Space Station on March 3, 2023, and were part of Expedition 68/69. The four of them finished the sixth regular crewed mission of SpaceX in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast east of Jacksonville, Florida. The Crew Dragon departed the Station about seventeen hours earlier.

Shortly after the splashdown, the SpaceX ship “Shannon” went to recover the Endeavour and its crew to transport them to the coast. The astronauts also received their first medical checkup aboard the ship.

During the first part of Expedition 69, there were various arrivals and departures of spacecraft. On March 28, the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft left the Station to return to Earth without a crew due to damage to its life support systems. On April 15, a Dragon space freighter left the Station to finish its CRS-27 mission by returning to Earth. On April 21, the space freighter “S.S. Sally Ride” left the Station to disintegrate upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. On May 22, the Crew Dragon Freedom spacecraft arrived on the private mission Axiom Mission 2 and then left the Station on May 30. On June 6, a Dragon space freighter arrived on mission CRS-28 and then left the Station on June 29 to return to Earth.

During this period, some spacewalks were conducted, and some involved members of the Crew-6 mission. On April 19, cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin took almost exactly eight hours to conduct maintenance work on the Russian section of the Station. On April 28, astronauts Stephen Bowen and Sultan Alneyadi took just over seven hours to set up some equipment in preparation for installing two pairs of iROSA solar arrays. On May 3, cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin set off for more maintenance work, which they completed on May 12 in just over five hours. On June 9, astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg took just over six hours to install one of the new iROSA solar panels while the second was installed by the two astronauts on June 15 in just over five and a half hours.

The Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft completed its fourth space mission and will be overhauled like the others after each return to Earth. Corrosion in some valves of another Crew Dragon’s vital systems had delayed the launch of the Crew-7 mission but Endeavor’s systems didn’t show any problems. SpaceX continues to perform missions as part of the contract with NASA, which ensure the USA a means of transport independent from other nations, and private missions.

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