4 astronauts returned to Earth by SpaceX after ISS mission
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.
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