SpaceX's Crew-3 astronauts return home from ISS with successful splashdown off Florida coast

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SpaceX’s Crew-3 astronauts returned home to Earth with a successful splashdown off the coast of Florida early Friday morning.

The four astronauts aboard the Dragon capsule Endurance splashed down around 12:43 a.m. ET Friday after a six-month mission to the International Space Station. 

NASA’S SPACEX CREW-3 UNDOCKS FROM SPACE STATION

In this image made from video supplied by NASA, SpaceX Dragon capsule uses parachutes as it descends in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday, May 6, 2022. NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer undocked from the International Space Station less than 24 hours earlier. (NASA via AP)

In this image made from video supplied by NASA, SpaceX Dragon capsule uses parachutes as it descends in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday, May 6, 2022. NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer undocked from the International Space Station less than 24 hours earlier. (NASA via AP)

The three American astronauts and one German in the capsule left the ISS Thursday, after spending nearly a week with their replacements. SpaceX brought up their U.S. and Italian replacements last week, after completing a charter trip to the station for a trio of businessmen.

The astronauts aboard the Dragon capsule were NASA’s Crew-3 commander Raja Chari, pilot Thomas Marshburn and mission specialist Kayla Barron, along with mission specialist Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency, according to Space.com.

In this photo made available by NASA, four commercial crew astronauts, from left, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron pose for a photo in their Dragon spacesuits during a fit check aboard the International Space Station's Harmony module on April 21, 2022.

In this photo made available by NASA, four commercial crew astronauts, from left, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron pose for a photo in their Dragon spacesuits during a fit check aboard the International Space Station’s Harmony module on April 21, 2022.

“That was a great ride,” said Chari. As for the reintroduction to gravity, he noted: “Only one complaint. These water bottles are super heavy.”

NASA is expected to have the Crew-3 astronauts back in Houston later Friday morning.

During their time in space, the astronauts conducted three spacewalks and performed multiple science experiments. 

In this image made from video supplied by NASA, SpaceX Dragon space capsule splashes down in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday, May 6, 2022.

In this image made from video supplied by NASA, SpaceX Dragon space capsule splashes down in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday, May 6, 2022.

The ISS is now under the control of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. He is overseeing a crew that includes Russian cosmonauts Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov and NASA’s Crew-4 astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency.

Russia’s war with Ukraine has caused tensions between the U.S. and Russia, but astronauts aboard the ISS have described it as a “place of peace.” The new ISS commander, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, described his crewmates as brothers and sisters.

NASA CHIEF SAYS RUSSIA NOT ENDING SPACE STATION PARTNERSHIP

In this image made from video supplied by NASA, SpaceX Dragon space capsule is lifted out of the water after splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday, May 6, 2022. (NASA via AP)

In this image made from video supplied by NASA, SpaceX Dragon space capsule is lifted out of the water after splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico early Friday, May 6, 2022. (NASA via AP)

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SpaceX, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has now launched 26 people into orbit in less than two years, since the company started ferrying astronauts for NASA. Eight of those 26 were space tourists.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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