US space agency confirms first pair of tourists to the International Space Station returned safely to Earth on Monday
SpaceX Dragon return lands safely after delivering astronauts home from space station
Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut have returned to Earth after completing their longest ever space flight in space.
Their journey home was in orbit, as the SpaceX Dragon capsule made a crash landing in the Pacific Ocean shortly after its arrival at the International Space Station.
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During the mission, the crewmates – Karen Nyberg, Clayton Anderson and Oleg Novitskiy – travelled more than 240m miles, or nearly 420km, in a space station flight that lasted five and a half months, US space agency Nasa said.
Nyberg and Anderson arrived at the space station from the International Space Station on 15 July with Novitskiy, who previously served aboard the station. They are the first crew members to join the orbiting outpost from Earth since the end of last year.
SpaceX has announced plans to launch tourists on a suborbital space flight in 2018. The company said in a tweet it would fly two more US astronauts to the station.
In a tweet, Nasa administrator, Jim Bridenstine, congratulated the crew on the “prestigious mission”.
NASA (@NASA) Thanks for the awesome drive Karen, Clayton and Oleg. Onward and upward for our US #SpaceX Crew Dragon launch & orbital space station dock! https://t.co/EB1s11QS29 pic.twitter.com/ck3FYdALgC
The last time a private vehicle transported a crew to the station was in 2013.
As the crew prepared to return home, the station crew prepared to welcome new and old visitors. Dutch astronaut Alexander Gerst arrived on Monday, while NASA astronaut Kate Rubins was slated to board on Tuesday.