SpaceX capsule splashes down with ISS crew of four

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STORY: The SpaceX capsule, dubbed Endurance, parachuted into waters off the coast of Tampa just after 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT) carrying two NASA astronauts, a Japanese astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut, after a roughly nine-hour flight from the orbital research lab, a NASA-SpaceX webcast showed.

The Crew-5 team included cosmonaut Anna Kikina, 38, who became the first Russian to fly on an American spacecraft in 20 years, and NASA flight commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, 45, the first Native American woman sent into orbit. NASA pilot Josh Cassada, 49, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, 59, a veteran of four previous spaceflights, were also aboard.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, a gumdrop-shaped pod designed to launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, undocked from the space station early Saturday morning and re-entered Earth's atmosphere around 8:11 p.m. ET (0111 GMT Sunday), enduring frictional heat that sent temperatures outside the capsule soaring to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,930 degrees Celsius).

According to NASA, four minutes before splashdown, drogue parachutes deployed at about 18,000 feet and less than a minute later, the main parachutes deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while the spacecraft is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.

The mission was SpaceX's sixth crewed flight for NASA since its Crew Dragon spacecraft first flew humans in May 2020, when it restored crewed launches from American soil after nearly a decade of U.S. dependence on Russia's Soyuz program for space station flights.