Saturday, November 27, 2021

SpaceX Makes First Nighttime Splashdown With Astronauts Since 1968

There are four astronauts on Crew.

Victor Glover, 45, selected by NASA in 2013 to be an astronaut, was on his first spaceflight. He is also the first Black NASA astronaut to be a member of a space station crew. Michael S. Hopkins, 52, a colonel in the United States Space Force, was the commander for the flight. (Colonel Hopkins is also the first member of the newly created U.S. Space Force to go to space.) He was one of nine astronauts selected

NASA in 2009. He had made one previous trip to the International Space Station, in 2013-14, spending 166 days in orbit. Soichi Noguchi, 56, an astronaut with JAXA, the Japanese space agency, completes his third trip to space. He was a member of the Crew of the space shuttle Discovery in 2005, on the first shuttle launch after the loss of Columbia and its seven astronauts more than two years earlier.

During that visit to the International Space Station, Mr. Noguchi made three spacewalks. That included testing techniques developed to repair damage to the heat tiles on the shuttle similar to what had doomed Columbia when it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere. In 2009-10, he spent five months in orbit as a space station crew member.

Shannon Walker, 55, has had one previous stint on the space station in 2010. Dr. Walker has a doctoral degree in space physics from Rice University, where she studied how the solar wind interacts with the atmosphere of Venus.

A birthday party and other complex work on the space station.

The space station has been a bit more crowded than usual since another SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, Endeavour, docked on Saturday, April 24. That brought the station’s crew tally to 11, the most significant number of astronauts on board since the space shuttles stopped flying (the record for most onboard is 13). The four astronauts leave seven astronauts behind — three from NASA, two from the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

One from the European Space Agency and one from JAXA. But while they were there, they conducted science experiments, including tissue chips that mimic human organs and grew radishes and other vegetables. They also performed spacewalks to install equipment outside the space station, including preparing it for new solar panels.

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