The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday shoved off from the International Space Station (ISS) with two US astronauts on board, beginning their journey back to Earth, despite a storm threatening Florida.
NASA footage showed the capsule drifting slowly away from the ISS in the darkness of space, ending a two-month stay for the first US astronauts to reach the orbiting lab on a US spacecraft in nearly a decade.
“And they are off!” NASA tweeted, with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken set to splash down yesterday.
“[They] will spend one more night in space prior to returning to their homeland, Earth,” NASA tweeted.
Their proposed splash-down sites were off the coast of western Florida’s panhandle, while Tropical Storm Isaias was headed toward the state’s east coast.
NASA opted to go ahead with bringing the pair home, despite the threat of Isaias, which was downgraded to a tropical storm from a hurricane on Saturday.
The agency later added that the capsule was confirmed to be “on a safe trajectory.”
“Now is the entry, descent and splashdown phase after we undock, hopefully a little bit later today,” Hurley said in a farewell ceremony aboard the ISS that was broadcast on NASA TV.
“The teams are working really hard, especially with the dynamics of the weather over the next few days around Florida,” he said.
Earlier, during the ISS ceremony, Behnken said that “the hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important part is bringing us home.”
The mission, which blasted off on May 30, marked the first time a crewed spaceship had launched into orbit from US soil since 2011, when the space shuttle program ended.
It was also the first time a private company has flown to the ISS carrying astronauts.
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