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ISS crew splashes down safely

SpaceX’s Endurance manned capsule yesterday safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, bringing home a crew of four astronauts from ISS after completing a six month mission.

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, returned to Earth splashing down at 5:47 a.m. EDT. Teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels retrieved the spacecraft and its crew. After returning to shore, the crew will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

…Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa, and Borisov traveled 84,434,094 miles during their mission, spent 197 days aboard the space station, and completed 3,184 orbits around Earth. The Crew-7 mission was the first spaceflight for Moghbeli and Borisov. Mogensen has logged 209 days in space over his two flights, and Furukawa has logged 366 days in space over his two flights.

This was the third flight of Endurance. As always, it is important to note that though the passengers were government employees from the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Russia, the entire splashdown crew and capsule were private employees of SpaceX. This was a private mission, purchased by those governments.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Surly

    As always, it is important to note…

    :( As always apologize for my OCD.

  • Surly: Thanks. Typo fixed.

  • Ray Van Dune

    It takes a lot for me to fault Kate Tice, but I’m afraid she must have made a boo-boo in talking about states from which one might see the Dragon’s fiery reentry trail.

    She mentioned Iowa and Louisiana. But I didn’t hear Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama or Florida! How can you see a reentry from Louisiana but not from Alabama, if it’s headed toward Pensacola?! And a ground-track map would have helped immensely.

    This brings up a more general point: although most space commentators do a good job (and often pro bono), I think they often miss opportunities to cater to the general public, especially those less knowledgeable about spaceflight, and focus too much on the diehard fans (like me)!

    Public support and excitement about the space programs is the best antidote to the “fix things on Earth first” crowd, and there sure are a lot of them!

  • Richard M

    I will say that I now think that, at least for the coming decade – and probably longer – that *most of the initial demand for time on space stations, and indeed any lunar base we have in place by the early 2030’s, *is* going to be just this: government space agencies. Only, instead of just NASA, ESA and JAXA, you will see more and more of these smaller developed countries buying rides for their own astronauts. And some will be European countries getting tired of waiting for an ESA slot.

    And there is nothing wrong with that. Commercial space station operators have to take their customers were they can find them in order to close their business case, and the same will be true of any such operations on the Moon (or Mars!). But one hopes that, one day, the price points drop enough that private science foundations, companies with relevant R&D efforts, and even only moderately well-off citizens can afford to take advantage, too. None of that would ever happen if NASA were running the whole show.

  • Richard M: I think the transition to mostly private customers will take place far faster than you think, once these private stations launch and begin operating.

    Of course, that could all go by the wayside if our lovely governments decide step in and squelch things, in their never-ending push to “help us.” Right now those governments are poised to do exactly that, so our optimism must be tempered.

  • Richard M

    Hi Bob,

    I suppose I should clarify my unarticulated premise, which is that, for at least the 2020’s, it is only going to be Dragon and (I assume) Starliner that will be taking Westerners not named “Jared Isaacman and Friends” to orbit. That means very few seats to be had, and it also means price points are going to remain more or less what they are now.

    But, once Starship actually gets into taking humans to and from orbit (and beyond), I think that is where the game starts to change. If you can take 20, 30, or 40+ people* up to your putative space station or lunar base, that changes the economics pretty profoundly. More to the point, a Starship program that is doing that is going to be able to deploy the infrastructure those people will need at their destination in the first place, too.

    Maybe you think that will happen sooner than I think it will! What I would content myself with saying is that if it turns out that it will take a little longer (and not because of government kibitzing), we should be patient enough to accept that, because it is a future worth waiting for. Whereas a throwaway government capsule on a throwaway government rocket taking four government employees up for a week on the Moon every year or a few months in LEO for a billion a pop is just more of the same.

    * Yes, Starship is supposed to be capable of taking as many as a hundred people up to orbit or beyond; but I think that’s something SpaceX is only going to gradually build up to. And taking even just 30 people to and from orbit, let alone the Moon, is a pretty massive step forward.

  • Richard M

    BTW, Endurance just set a new record: “The splashdown completed the third flight of Endurance, all long-duration ISS missions. Benji Reed, senior director for human spaceflight programs at SpaceX, noted at the briefing that the capsule has spent 534 days in space, more than any crew-rated vehicle in history.”

  • Richard M wrote, “the capsule has spent 534 days in space, more than any crew-rated vehicle in history.”

    Now that is a factoid I missed. Thank you. In taping my next Batchelor appearance today, I noted how SpaceX will soon have flown more people than any government in history, and given time its capsules will exceed the shuttles in flight. I wish I had known this additional detail to add to my report.

  • Richard M

    Hi Bob,

    Yes, that was in the Space News story that came out today. Which, by the way, notes something else: “Endeavour, Reed added in the call, will overtake Endurance’s current record, with 476 days and counting in space.” So, SpaceX is going to break this record again in a couple months. Just amazing, isn’t it?

  • Richard M

    By the way, there’s a new Space Review article up today that brought to my attention yet another amazing SpaceX feat, that may be worth noting. It’s an article by Trevor Williams on the early years of the Centaur stage:

    The difficult early life of the Centaur upper stage

    The Centaur, of course, has been a real work horse through its iterations over the past 62 years, launching a lot of very important payloads. And Williams underlines this by highlighting this fact: “A total of 271 Centaurs have been launched to date.”

    Now, this *is* a frankly astounding number, and underlines the long success story that Center has built over the last six decades. It has been an important part of space history.

    But then I stopped to realize that SpaceX has flown that many Falcon upper stages to orbit just since 2018.

    Imagine what just the next decade will bring. We’re in a marvelous new space age now.

  • Richard M: Based on Rocket Lab’s plans in the next year, that company should begin soon to compile numbers almost as good as SpaceX. All of which makes the Centaur numbers seem pathetic in retrospect.

  • Richard M

    Hi Bob,

    I have mad respect for the Centaur’s legacy: It has done yeoman service as a reliable upper stage for high energy orbits and destinations.

    But it belongs to a bygone age of space transportation.

    Centaur V might (*might*) carve out a longer term niche role if whoever buys ULA green-lights developing it into an ACES tug, and can find a way to produce it affordably. I have my doubts that it will ever happen, though.

  • pzatchok

    I have an Idea about starting an orbital construction company.

    A team of construction workers

    An orbital living facility with repair and maintenance rooms. large enough for 24 workers at a time.

    4 men outside at a time for assembly. They would need durable hard pressure suits so they do not have to do anything special to go on a space walk. Plus a hard suit would protect them better from lost small parts that might hit them.

    As many as possible off the shelf, so to speak, parts and assemblies.

    The facility would be quite large so it could afford to be a test bed area for new water reclamation facilities and air handling systems.

    With the correct techs and tools on board they could fix anything and do it under the direction of engineers on the ground. What can not be built of fixed can be sent up on the next ship.

    Every space station will need a crew like this and the first company to make it into space and do the task will be miles ahead of all the rest.

  • Edward

    Ray Van Dune asked: “How can you see a reentry from Louisiana but not from Alabama, if it’s headed toward Pensacola?!

    Was Alabama cloudy?

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