Science

‘Deliciously boring’: SpaceX’s Dragon Freedom capsule successfully completed its first astronaut mission

The first mission of SpaceX’s newest Dragon crew capsule could not have gone more smoothly.

The spacecraft, named Freedom, embarked on a SpaceX Crew-4 astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA that ended Friday afternoon (Oct. 14) with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.

Freedom’s return to Earth went like clockwork, as did almost the entire mission, according to NASA and SpaceX officials.

RELATED: Amazing SpaceX Crew-4 Mission Photos

“From my perspective, looking at the spacecraft data for those five and a half months was delightfully boring while the crew had to do all the exciting work aboard the ISS,” said Sarah Walker, SpaceX director of Dragon mission control, during news after splashdown. conference on Friday evening.

“That’s exactly what we like,” Walker added. “The Freedom car worked great all the time, and especially today, on the day of its return.”

Crew-4 lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 27, carrying NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, and the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti to the orbiting laboratory.

On the same day, Svoboda arrived at the ISS, and its crew members quickly got to work. The Crew-4 astronauts have completed “more than 250 human exploration technology demonstration studies that we will need for research, and have also completed some of our low Earth orbit commercialization activities,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s ISS program manager, said Friday. evening press conference.

The astronauts’ journey back to Earth on Friday was also notable, and not just for its smoothness: Freedom splashed down less than five hours after undocking from the ISS.

“It was actually the fastest return we have ever made on a crewed mission — on any mission — to date,” Walker said.

NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins (left), Robert Hines, Kjell Lindgren and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (right) are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom spacecraft aboard the SpaceX Megan rescue ship shortly after landing in the Atlantic Ocean. coast of Jacksonville, FL Friday, October 14, 2022 (Image credit: NASA)

SpaceX still has a mission to the ISS, and it will be for a while; Crew-5 of four arrived on October 6 aboard Dragon Endurance, which was also on the company’s Crew-3 mission.

Like Crew-5, Crew-6 will use the veteran Dragon capsule. This upcoming mission, scheduled to launch next spring, will be operated by the Endeavor spacecraft, Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager, said during a Friday briefing.

Endeavor flew the first ever SpaceX astronaut mission, the 2020 Demo-2 flight to the ISS, and the Crew-2 and Axiom SpaceX Ax-1 flight. The 17-day Ax-1, which took place in April of this year, was the first privately manned flight to the space station.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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