Four astronauts are expected to return to Earth from the International Space Station early Monday after spending more than six months in space, NASA said.
The four members of the Crew-2 mission, including a French astronaut and a Japanese, will therefore return to Earth before the arrival of a replacement crew, whose take-off has been delayed several times due to adverse weather conditions.
NASA said in a statement Friday night that Crew-2 members are scheduled to return to Earth “no earlier than 7:14 a.m. EST (12:14 p.m. GMT) on Monday, November 8, with a water landing off the coast of Florida. “.
“As we prepare to leave, it’s kind of a bittersweet feeling, we might never come back to see the ISS, and it really is a magical place,” French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said on Friday. of a press conference from the space station.
“I am very grateful that people dreamed of the ISS some time ago and then worked hard to get there and build it for the good of all,” Pesquet added.
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Endeavor, the Crew Dragon spacecraft, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 6:05 p.m. GMT on Sunday to begin the return journey.
Once detached from the ISS, the capsule will begin a journey of several hours, the duration of which can vary greatly depending on the trajectory, and will then land off the coast of Florida.
An emergency undocking and ditching opportunity is available Monday if weather conditions are not favorable, NASA said.
Both missions are carried out by NASA in collaboration with SpaceX, which now provides regular launches to the ISS from the United States.
Crew-3 is scheduled to take off for the ISS aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the astronauts have been in quarantine for days.
American astronaut Megan McArthur was convinced that not sending the replacement crew to the ISS before the current crew left was only a temporary setback.
âOf course, it’s not optimal,â McArthur told reporters at Friday’s press conference. âBut we are ready to handle it. Space flights are filled with many little challenges.