SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission safely returns to Earth after five months in space

It was a trip for the history books.

NASA / Keegan Barber

SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission has safely returned to Earth. On Saturday evening, the company’s “Endurance” Dragon spacecraft splashed down off the coast of Florida following a five-month stay at the International Space Station. The capsule was carrying NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, Japan’s Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina.

The four spent 157 days in orbit during an ISS rotation that was one for the history books. As points out, the Crew-5 mission saw Mann, a member of the Wailaki people, become the first Native American woman to fly in space. It was also the first time a Russian cosmonaut flew aboard a private American spacecraft, a milestone made possible after NASA and Roscosmos signed a seat-sharing agreement last year amid increasing US and Russian tensions due to the war in Ukraine.

For Wakata, the flight was his fifth return from space, a Japanese record. The mission also marked the second orbital trip for Endurance after the capsule successfully carried the Crew-3 crew back to Earth last fall. The spacecraft will now return to SpaceX’s Dragon Lair facility in Florida for safety checks and refurbishment ahead of its next flight.

Not on the flight was NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who flew to the ISS on MS-22, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that sprung a coolant leak late last year following an apparent micrometeoroid strike. The Endurance crew temporarily retrofitted their ride to carry Rubio in case of an emergency evacuation from the ISS after Roscomos determined MS-22 could only safely transport two people. They later removed those modifications after Russia sent a replacement Soyuz spacecraft to bring Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin back to Earth.