Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari was among the four astronauts aboard a Space X spacecraft which on Friday safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Florida, US after spending nearly six months at the International Space Station.
Raja Chari along with Kayla Barron, Tom Marshburn – all of NASA and European Space Agency’s (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted splashdown into the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, the US at 12:43 am EDT completing the agency’s third long-duration commercial crew mission to the International Space Station.
The landing signalled the end of the Crew-3 mission of the astronauts who had spent 177 days in orbit on the SpaceX Dragon Endurance craft to the ISS.
“NASA’s partnership with SpaceX has again empowered us to deliver a crew safely to the space station and back, enabling groundbreaking science that will help our astronauts travel farther out into the cosmos than ever before,” a statement from NASA read.
“This mission is just one more example that we are truly in the golden era of commercial spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Raja, Kayla, Tom, and Matthias, thank you for your service, and welcome home!” the statement read.
According to the report, the Crew-3 mission launched on November 10 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Nearly 24-hours after liftoff on November 11, Endurance docked to the Harmony module’s forward space station port. The astronauts undocked from the same port at 1:05 am on May 5, to begin the trip home.
Barron, Chari, Marshburn, and Maurer travelled 75,060,792 miles during their mission, spent 175 days aboard the space station, and completed 2,832 orbits around Earth.
The Crew-3 flight is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its return to Earth follows on the heels of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch, which docked at the station on April 27, beginning another science expedition.
The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This already has provided additional research time and has increased the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s microgravity testbed for exploration, including helping NASA prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.