NASA has announced that four astronauts are set to return to Earth from the International Orbit Station on Monday morning, after spending more than six months in space aboard the station.
Consequently, the four members of the Crew-2 mission, which includes a French and a Japanese astronaut, will return to Earth before the arrival of a replacement crew, whose launch has been repeatedly postponed because of poor weather conditions.
A NASA statement issued late Friday said that Crew-2 members are scheduled to return “no sooner than 7:14 a.m. EST (12:14 a.m. GMT) Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida.”
In a news conference held from the International Space Station earlier Friday, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said, “As we prepare to depart, it’s a bittersweet feeling because we may never get to visit the ISS again, and it’s a really amazing place.”
“I’m really grateful that individuals had the vision for the International Space Station years ago and then worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition and to construct it for the benefit of all,” Pesquet said.
It is planned that Endeavour, the Crew Dragon spacecraft, will undock from the International Space Station around 1805 GMT on Sunday, and then begin its return voyage to the Earth.
Once released from the International Space Station, the capsule will begin a flight of many hours, the length of which will vary widely depending on the trajectory, and will eventually land off the shore of the United States of America’s state of Florida.
If the weather conditions are not ideal on Monday, a backup undocking and splashdown chance will be available, according to NASA.
The two missions are being carried out by NASA in partnership with SpaceX, which is now able to launch spacecraft to the International Space Station on a regular basis from the United States.
It is scheduled for Crew-3 will launch to the Space Station on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where astronauts have been isolated for the past several days.
Megan McArthur, a US astronaut, expressed confidence that the failure to bring the replacement crew to the International Space Station before the current crew leaves was just a short delay.