It’s not a shooting star; it’s a spaceship.
SpaceX’s Crew-3 astronaut mission return to Earth early Friday, May 6, was captured in epic photos as the crew completed six months on the International Space Station.
NASA and SpaceX, which supplied the Crew-3 Dragon capsule for the agency, captured the ridged spacecraft high in the atmosphere in the minutes before the successful splashdown at 12:43 a.m. EDT (0443 GMT), 176 days after the start of their mission.
These epic photos show a meteor-like vehicle moving rapidly through the atmosphere with four people on board: Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, all from NASA, and Matthias Maurer from the European Space Agency (ESA).
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NASA photographer Aubrey Gemignani captured the re-entry of the Dragon capsule in several photos.
Above is a view of the capsule as it plunges into the atmosphere in the early hours of Friday.
Below is a wider view of SpaceX’s Crew-3 Dragon with the lights of the recovery ships visible at the bottom of the image, including what appears to be a searchlight blazing into the night at the lower right.
The returning Endurance spacecraft was visible in Mexico, Florida and surrounding areas, generating shares on social media from people who got up early (or stayed up late) to watch the show.
Endurance Return Dragon capsule seen from southeastern Mexico (Villahermosa, Tabasco) #SpaceX #Dragon #ISS #NASA #Space pic.twitter.com/eLYiW289XVMay 6, 2022
Standing on the shores of Clearwater Beach, I watched Crew Dragon and its crew of four streak across the night sky on their journey home. Time to return to the Space Coast for a launch 🚀 #Crew3 @SpaceX @NASA pic.twitter.com/b1KiuoC9YZMay 6, 2022
Within minutes of the splashdown, the four astronauts gave an enthusiastic “Hello” to Earth after recovery officials reached the spacecraft.
Although it usually takes about a day on our planet to fully recover from each day in space, astronauts should be able to resume many of their normal activities (such as showering, driving, and exercising) within a few weeks only.