Four ISS astronauts return to Earth aboard SpaceX capsule


Three US astronauts and one German returned to Earth on April 6, 2022, aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule after a journey of more than 23 hours.

NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer had spent almost six months on the International Space Station (ISS). Their capsule, Endurance, splashed down during the middle of the night in the Gulf of Mexico off Tampa, Florida.

Their mission was marked by intense geopolitical tensions between Russia and other ISS partners over the invasion of Ukraine. On April 4, 2022, the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said Russia would end cooperation on the ISS and that partnership in space would only be possible once sanctions imposed by the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Japan were lifted.

Yet on May 4, 2022, as Marshburn handed over command of the ISS to Oleg Artemyev, they both voiced a message of hope and peace. “The lasting legacy of the space station is likely to be international cooperation and a place of peace,” Marshburn commented. “What matters the most […] is our family, our children, peace between our countries, and our friendship. Thank you for the friendship,” Artemyev answered.

Another Dragon capsule, called Freedom, took four more astronauts to the ISS, launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27, 2022. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins and ESA Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy took over from the previous crew.

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