SpaceX Crew Splashes Down

Toilet-less astronauts experienced a minor delay getting back to Earth
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2021 9:45 AM CST
Updated Nov 9, 2021 12:01 AM CST
SpaceX Crew, Already Gone 6 Months, Has Minor Delay
From left, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., in April.   (AP Photo/John Raoux, file)

(Newser) Update: Following a brief delay, a SpaceX crew of four astronauts returned to Earth Monday, the AP reports. Their capsule streaked through the late night sky like a dazzling meteor before parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Recovery boats quickly moved in with spotlights, and within an hour, all four astronauts were out of the capsule, exchanging fist bumps with the team on the recovery ship. Our original story from Sunday follows:

High wind off the Florida coast has prompted SpaceX to delay the return of four space station astronauts in orbit since spring. The US, French and Japanese astronauts were supposed to leave the International Space Station on Sunday, with their capsule splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday morning. But with gusts exceeding safety limits, the AP reports, SpaceX bumped the departure to Monday afternoon, with a nighttime return to conclude their six-month mission. The change means their trip home will be faster—eight hours, less than half as long as before. The toilet in their capsule is broken, and so the four will need to rely on diapers while flying home.

SpaceX still is aiming for a Wednesday night launch, at the earliest, of their replacements. That flight also has been delayed by bad weather, as well as an astronaut's undisclosed medical issue. The issue, described as minor, should be resolved by launch time, officials said. Last week, SpaceX and NASA flipped the order of the launch and landing because of the deteriorating weather and the looming deadline to get the capsule back from the space station. SpaceX capsules are certified for a maximum 210 days in orbit, and the one up there now is approaching 200 days.

(Read more SpaceX stories.)

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