Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and NASA crew return to Earth in SpaceX capsule

An American SpaceX ship carrying the Japanese Soichi Noguchi and three American astronauts returned to Earth on Sunday after the group’s six-month mission to the International Space Station.

The three Americans are Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, all from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The Crew Dragon capsule splashed at 2:56 a.m. in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida, the first time a US manned craft has reached Earth in darkness since the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

It was launched in November from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the second manned flight to the ISS by the commercially-built spacecraft.

The four astronauts initially planned to return at the end of April but their departure was postponed due to inclement weather conditions.

The crew then left the capsule one by one and Noguchi was the last to do so.

While the four were aboard the ISS, another SpaceX spacecraft carried 52-year-old Japanese Akihiko Hoshide and three other astronauts to the orbiting lab, simultaneously putting two Japanese astronauts into space for the first time since. 2010.

SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corp., was founded by Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk and developed the Crew Dragon as a successor to NASA’s expensive space shuttle transport system that has been in service. for 30 years until 2011.

Noguchi, a 56-year-old veteran astronaut, became the first person to fly on each of the space shuttles, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the Crew Dragon. He was also the first non-American astronaut to board the Crew Dragon.

He made the fourth spacewalk of his career, the highest number for a Japanese astronaut.

During his mission aboard the space station, Noguchi posted around 80 videos on YouTube showing his daily life, meals, experiences and walks in space. A video posted on Sunday, his last day in orbit, showed he was playing Chopin’s Op Etude. 10 n ° 3 on the keyboard.

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