The astronaut crew returns home after a five-month stay on the International Space Station

(CNN) The four astronauts The crew of the Crew-5 crew aboard the International Space Station began their journey back home Saturday morning, marking the end of their five-month stay in space.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule descended from the space station at 2:20 a.m. ET, beginning the final leg of the astronauts’ journey. The spacecraft is set to scatter off Florida at approximately 9:02 p.m. ET Saturday.

Rescue ships will await the team’s arrival, ready to pull the capsule from the ocean and allow the crew to disembark, giving the astronauts their first breath of fresh air in nearly 160 days. Shortly thereafter, the crew will depart for NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The four crew members — NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Kasada, astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA, or the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and astronaut Anna Kikina of the Russian space agency Roscosmos — launched to the space station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule last October. . They’ve spent the past few months doing research experiments and keeping up with the maintenance of the two-decade-old lab.

And over the past few days, all four have been delivered operations Crew-6 team of astronauts He arrived at the space station on March 3rd.

Meet the crew

Mann, a registered member of the Wailacki tribe of the Round Valley Reservation, became a member The first Native American woman to travel to it orbit. She devoted her time like other astronauts on her public outreach journey, some of which has focused on inspiring Aboriginal people children. during One outreach event In November 2022, Mann A.J The dream catcher—a traditional Native American totem meant to ward off bad dreams—she took her with her to the space station.

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“I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage,” Mann told reporters before the launch. “I think it’s important to celebrate our diversity and realize how important it is when we come together and unite, the amazing achievements we can achieve.”

Kikina’s participation in this ride came as part of a ride-sharing agreement before NASA and Roscosmos in July 2022. Despite geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia as the war in Ukraine escalates, NASA has repeatedly said its partnership with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is necessary to continue operations of the space station and the valuable scientific research being conducted on board.

The flight was Mann, Kasada and Kekina’s first trip to space.

Wakata previously flew on NASA’s Space Shuttle flights and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. This flight was the Japanese astronaut’s fifth mission.

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