CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Four astronauts returned to Earth early Monday after a six-month stay at the International Space Station.
Their SpaceX capsule parachuted into the Atlantic off the Florida coast.
Returning were NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Russia’s Andrei Fedyaev, and the United Arab Emirates’ Sultan al-Neyadi, the first person from the Arab world to spend an extended time in orbit.
Before departing the space station, they said they were craving hot showers, steaming cups of coffee, and the ocean air since arriving in March. Their homecoming was delayed a day because of poor weather at the splashdown locations, but in the end, provided a spectacular middle-of-the-night show as the capsule streaked through the sky over Cape Canaveral toward a splashdown near Jacksonville.
The astronauts said it was incredible to be back. “You’ve got a roomful of happy people here,” SpaceX Mission Control radioed.
SpaceX launched their replacements over a week ago.
Another crew switch will occur later this month with the long-awaited homecoming of two Russians and one American who have been up there an entire year. Their stay was doubled after their Soyuz capsule leaked all of its coolant and a new craft had to be launched.
Between crew swaps, the space station is home to seven astronauts.