SpaceX mission returns to Earth
After six months, three U.S. astronauts departed the International Space Station on Thursday and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday. The SpaceX capsule carried the Americans and one German from the European Space Agency.
Is this mission special? The partnership between NASA and SpaceX gives American astronauts another route home after research assignments aboard the space station. Since NASA ended its shuttle program in 2011, U.S. astronauts have hitched rides on Russian spacecraft, often landing in Kazakhstan. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent degrading of the relationship between Washington and the Kremlin, there was some concern that the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, would leave Americans stranded in space. Roscosmos did ferry Mark Vande Hei back to Earth in March as planned.
Dig deeper: Listen to Bonnie Pritchett’s report on The World and Everything in It podcast about how the war in Ukraine is threatening long-standing international partnerships in space.
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