NASA, SpaceX mission: Astronauts returning home from the space station return from the International Space Station off the coast of Florida.

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Four astronauts boarded the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and returned home from the International Space Station on Friday, ending a nearly six-month stay in the orbiting laboratory.

The astronauts — NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti with the European Space Agency, or ESA — said goodbye to other astronauts on the space station and strapped into their spacecraft around 10 a.m. ET.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft left its docking port on the ISS at noon ET. He made a gradual trek toward the edge of Earth’s dense inner atmosphere. After that, the capsule re-ignited its thrusters and reversed itself as it began re-entry. This step began to decelerate the spacecraft from its orbital velocity of 17,500 miles per hour (28,164 kilometers per hour). A heat shield protects the astronauts as the thrust towards Earth heats the exterior of the spacecraft to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 degrees Celsius).

A plume of parachutes further slowed its descent before making a splashdown landing on the coast of Jacksonville, Florida shortly before 5pm ET.

The crew was originally scheduled to take off from the space station on Wednesday evening, but the ground crew abandoned the attempt. Tough weather. A second attempt was also foiled by the storm on Thursday morning’s return.

The mission, known as Crew-4, marked a historic first, with Watkins becoming the first black woman to remain on the space station crew for the longest period of time.

During their stay, the astronauts conducted scientific experiments, including growing vegetables in space without soil and studying the effects of space travel on the human body.

Those experiments are designed to understand how astronauts might one day grow their own food and how their bodies might perform on missions deep into space, such as NASA’s planned Artemis missions to the moon, Watkins said during a news conference last week.

“Columbus walked into the block and could smell the leaves growing, the plants growing,” Watkins told reporters.

Cristoforetti, who was on a previous mission to the space station in 2014-2015, is the only woman in ESA’s astronaut corps, and she made her own history on this mission. Last month, she took over as commander of the space station, becoming the first European woman to do so.

Cristoforetti also conducted a spacewalk in July Small satellites and the installation of a new robotic arm on the exterior of the space station.

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