NASA and SpaceX have decided to move Crew-1’s undocking and splashdown from Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1, respectively, following a review of the forecast weather conditions in the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida, which continue to predict wind speeds above the return criteria. Mission teams from NASA and SpaceX will meet again on Friday to further review opportunities for the safe return of Crew-1. Crew Dragon is in great health on the space station, and teams will continue to look for the optimal conditions for both splashdown and recovery.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet arrived at the International Space Station Saturday, as the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour docked to the complex at 5:08 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying 264 miles above the Indian Ocean.
Following Crew Dragon’s link up to the Harmony module, the astronauts aboard the Endeavour and the space station will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for 7:15 a.m.
NASA Television and the agency’s website are now broadcasting live coverage of the return to Earth of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft carrying the trio will make its deorbit burn to set the spaceship on its re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere for a landing in Kazakhstan at 12:56 a.m. (10:56 a.m. Kazakhstan time) Saturday, April 17.
During the 185-day mission, Rubins spent hundreds of hours working on new space station experiments, building on investigations she conducted during her first mission, including heart research and multiple microbiology studies. She advanced her work in DNA sequencing, which could allow astronauts to diagnose an illness in space or identify microbes growing at the space station. Rubins collected hundreds of microbial samples at different locations within the space station for the 3DMM study to construct a 3D map of bacteria and bacterial products throughout the station. By advancing understanding of the orbiting laboratory’s microbiome, this work helps identify potential risks and supports developing countermeasures to mitigate those risks.
Rubins also worked on the Cardinal Heart experiment, which studies how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue levels. Results could provide new understanding of heart problems on Earth, help identify new treatments, and support development of screening measures to predict cardiovascular risk prior to spaceflight.