Space tourists return to Earth after traveling for 16 hours in Falcon-9 rocket

Washington:

The first fully private crew of astronauts returned from the International Space Research Station (ISS) after completing a two-week mission. The team landed near the Florida coast in the United States (US) on Monday. 

A four-member crew representing Houston-based startup company Axiom Space Inc. returned from the ISS after a 16-hour journey on SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket.

This spacecraft was to return on Wednesday itself, but due to bad weather, the return was delayed. The flight crew was led by Spanish-born NASA astronaut López Alegria (63). He is also the Vice President (Business Development) of the company. Other members included Larry Conner (70), Eyton Stibbe (64) and Mark Pethe (52). 

These passengers took off for space on April 8. The three industrialists paid 55 million dollars (about Rs 418 crore) for the space station, food and other facilities.

Upon return from orbit, frictional heat is generated through Earth’s atmosphere, which raises the temperature outside the capsule to 3,500 °F (1,927 °C), for which the flight suits of astronauts are placed in the cabin. They are designed to keep them cool when they are hot.

Astronauts safely landed from space

Applause was heard from the SpaceX Flight Control Center in suburban Los Angeles as the parachutes opened atop the capsule in its final stages. Its fall slowed to about 15 mph (24 kph) and then landed ashore in Jacksonville waters as the craft hit.

Following this, a small recovery boat with a three-man team approached Crew Dragon a few minutes later to secure the scorched craft from the heat as it sprung straight into the ocean. About 40 minutes later the capsule was hoisted onto the deck of a large recovery vessel from the sea, and after that, the hatch was opened to let the astronauts out.

This thrilling view was captured on camera by the crew from inside the capsule. In which the four members are shown in their seats, wearing white and black spacesuits with their helmets.

SpaceX, the private launch service founded by Tesla Inc. (TSLA.o) electric car maker CEO Elon Musk, supplied the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule that took Axiom’s team to space.

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