The astronaut crew splashed down near Florida, ending a five-month stay in space

(CNN) Four astronauts from the International Space Station’s Crew-5 crew splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico and returned home Saturday after five months in space.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule lifted off from the space station at 2:20 a.m. ET, beginning the final leg of the astronauts’ journey. The spacecraft headed back toward Earth, then plunged back into the atmosphere and touched down just after 9 p.m. Saturday off Tampa Beach, Florida.

Rescue ships awaited the crew’s arrival, pulling the capsule out of the ocean and allowing the crew to disembark, giving the astronauts their first breath of fresh air in nearly 160 days.

The four crew members, NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Kasada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata or Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Russian space agency Roscosmos astronaut Anna Kikhina, were launched to the space station last October by the SpaceX Crew Dragon. . Over the past few months, they have been conducting research experiments in the upkeep and maintenance of the two-decade-old orbital laboratory.

A few days before their departure, the Crew-5 astronauts handed over operations to the Crew-6 team. It arrived at the space station on March 3.

In this photo provided by NASA, clockwise from left, Expedition 68 flight engineers Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, Josh Kasada and Nicole Mann of NASA, and Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) gather for a portrait inside the International Space Station. Lab block on March 1, 2023.

Meet the crew

Mann became an enrolled member of the Wailaki Tribe of the Circle Valley Reservation First Native American woman to travel Around the circular path. Like other astronauts, she put in the time In his foray into public space, some focused on promoting tribalism Children. when An outreach event In November 2022, the deer is a A dream catcher — a traditional Native American totem to ward off bad dreams — she took with her to the space station.

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“I’m very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage,” Mann told reporters before kicking off. “I think it’s important to celebrate our diversity and realize how important it is when we collaborate and unite, and we can achieve incredible things.”

Kikina’s participation in the flight came as part of a ride-sharing deal NASA and Roscosmos In July 2022. As the war in Ukraine escalates, and despite geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia, NASA has repeatedly said its partnership with Roscosmos is critical to continuing operations of the space station and the valuable scientific research carried out on board.

The trip marked the first spacewalk for Mann, Kasada and Kikina.

Wagada previously flew on NASA’s space shuttle flights and Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. The trip was the fifth space mission by a Japanese astronaut.

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