Washington: The crew of Axiom Space’s Ax-3 mission splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, capping off their three-week journey to the International Space Station with a safe return.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying the four astronauts plummeted through our planet’s atmosphere at speeds reaching 17,500 miles per hour, eventually drifting down on parachutes to rest in calm waters off the coast of Daytona, Florida.
Air speeds of this magnitude create massive amounts of friction, which turns into heat, testing the limits of the capsule’s heat shields with temperatures estimated at 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, according to SpaceX.
The Dragon capsule’s splashdown just before 8:30 a.m. EST marked the end of Axiom’s third mission into low Earth orbit.
Ax-3, which launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 18, was SpaceX’s first trip to carry an all-European crew.
During their time aboard the ISS, they took part in various experiments aimed at the future of long-term human space travel.
These experiments included testing a muscle stimulation and monitoring suit, testing the stress responses of gene-edited plants growing in microgravity, tracking bone density in microgravity, and monitoring astronauts’ sleep patterns in space.