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Astronauts leave ISS, begin return to Earth

Tech & IT desk || shiningbd

Published: 10:57, 2 May 2021  
Astronauts leave ISS, begin return to Earth

With the flight back to Earth expected to take six and a half hours, the crew was scheduled to splash down in the dark of night early on Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico, near Panama City, Florida [NASA v

Four astronauts have left the International Space Station on board a SpaceX vessel, after more than 160 days in space which will culminate in a splash landing off the Florida coast.

The Crew Dragon capsule undocked from the ISS as scheduled at 8:35pm on Saturday (00:35 Sunday GMT).

With the flight back to Earth expected to take six and a half hours, the crew was scheduled to splash down in the dark of night early on Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico, just off Panama City, Florida.

“Dragon separation visually confirmed,” a NASA commentator said after two sets of six hooks tying the capsule to the ISS retracted.

The capsule then fired a series of short bursts with its thrusters to gently ease away from the ISS.

NASA livestream footage showed the Crew Dragon capsule moving off into the dark as it began its journey back to Earth, its rear engines lighting up in small flashes.

Seven astronauts remained on the ISS, including a new crew of four who arrived on a different SpaceX craft last week.

“Thanks for your hospitality,” Michael Hopkins, one of the departing US astronauts, said as the capsule moved away. “We’ll see you back on Earth.”

Shiningbd/Mb