SpaceX Crew-5 Successfully Completes 157-Day Mission
On March 11, 2023, the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa Bay, Florida, bringing four astronauts back to Earth after a successful 157-day mission. Aboard the spacecraft were NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina.
The mission began on October 5, 2022, when Crew-5 launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mann, who is registered with the Wailacki tribe of the Round Valley reservation, made history by becoming the first Native American woman to venture into space. She also became the first woman in history to command a crew on her very first spaceflight, and the first female to lead a Commercial Crew vehicle.
The Crew-5 mission included more than 200 experiments and six spacewalks, and Wakata holds the distinction of having spent over 500 days in space—the most for a Japanese astronaut. After the mission's completion, the Crew-5 astronauts handed off operations to the Crew-6 team, which included NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Emirati astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.
The Crew-6 team arrived at the ISS on March 3, 2021, while the Crew-5 astronauts conducted a direct handover period to help the Crew-6 astronauts settle into life aboard the Station. At a regular handover, the crew leaving the spacecraft will load it with cargo, undertake a refresher course for the splashdown and collect any last biological samples from themselves for scientific research.
The Crew-5 mission also included a highly unusual event in December when a docked Soyuz spacecraft sprung a leak, putting the capsule out of action. In response to the event, Russia dispatched a different spacecraft to transport the two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut who had used the now-injured vessel to arrive at the ISS in September.
The mission was succeeded by the SpaceX Crew-6 mission, which launched on March 3 with NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Emirati astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.
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