Oct 14, 2022 - Science

4 astronauts returned to Earth by SpaceX after ISS mission

A SpaceX capsule carrying crewmembers bobs in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The SpaceX capsule bobbing in the water after splashdown. Photo: NASA TV

Four astronauts are back on Earth after a nearly six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

Why it matters: This marks the end of SpaceX's fifth crewed mission to the ISS for NASA.

Driving the news: The SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean at 4:55 pm ET Friday.

  • "On behalf of SpaceX, welcome home," a SpaceX employee communicating with the crew said after splashdown. "Thanks for flying SpaceX."
  • The capsule undocked from the station at 12:05 pm ET Friday after poor weather at the splashdown site delayed the crew's landing.

The big picture: SpaceX is currently the only company able to fly astronauts from U.S. soil to orbit, ending NASA's sole reliance on Russia to deliver crewmembers to the space station.

  • That could change in the relatively near future, however, as Boeing works to get its Starliner capsule flying to the station under its contract with NASA.
  • Boeing's first crewed mission is expected to launch in early 2023.

Go deeper: Elon Musk's empire of risk

Go deeper