NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 successfully completed its fifth commercial crew rotation mission to the International Space Station, safely returning four international astronauts after spending 157 days in orbit. After splashing down in their Dragon spacecraft off the coast of Tampa, Florida, the crew members, including NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, were retrieved by SpaceX recovery vessels. The spacecraft and spacefarers were transported to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The Crew-5 mission was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, docking to the Harmony module’s forward-facing port about 17 hours later. The crew members traveled 66,577,531 miles, spent 156.5 days aboard the space station, and completed 2512 orbits around Earth.
During their mission, the Crew-5 team contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities, including conducting spacewalks to prepare the station for and install new International Space Station Roll-Out Solar Arrays, testing hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants without using soil, and studying how liquids move in a container in simulated lunar gravity to generate data to improve Moon rover designs.
In addition, the crew members also tested an on-demand system to produce specific quantities of key nutrients from yogurt, kefir, and a yeast-based beverage, grew dwarf tomatoes in efforts to address the need for a continuous fresh-food production capability in space and reinstalled the station’s bioprinting facility as a stepping stone in long-term plans to manufacture whole human organs in space.
The successful Crew-5 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. This program has already provided additional research time and increased the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s microgravity testbed for exploration, including helping NASA prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, "Each advancement these explorers make is not an achievement for one, but a giant leap for all of humanity." The Crew-5 mission's success is a testament to the ongoing collaboration between NASA and commercial partners like SpaceX in advancing space exploration and technology.
The next steps for the Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance by the Crew-3 astronauts on its maiden voyage, include inspection and processing at SpaceX’s Dragon Lair in Florida, where teams will inspect the spacecraft, analyze data on its performance, and process it for its next flight.
With the return of Crew-5, NASA's Commercial Crew Program continues with the SpaceX Crew-6 launch, which docked at the station on March 3, starting another science expedition. NASA's Commercial Crew Program is paving the way for a brighter future in space exploration, and the success of the Crew-5 mission brings us one step closer to achieving that goal.
Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at: https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
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