Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Four astronauts returned to Earth in a SpaceX capsule on Friday, ending their nearly six-month mission to the space station with a splashdown in the Atlantic off Florida.
Wet and windy weather across Florida delayed their return. SpaceX and NASA finally gave the green light on Friday, and the three Americans and an Italian left the International Space Station, their residence since April.
The capsule was parachuted into the ocean just off Jacksonville, Florida about five hours after leaving the space station. It carried NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, the first black woman to complete a long-duration spaceflight, and Samantha Cristoforetti from the European Space Agency. SpaceX delivered its replacements last week.
Before leaving, the astronauts said they were looking forward to having a cold drink with ice cream, eating pizza and ice cream, taking a shower, enjoying nature and, of course, find their family. NASA planned to push them to Houston once they left the SpaceX recovery ship and returned to solid ground.
“Getting the first hugs when we come back is going to be really awesome,” Hines told reporters earlier in the week.
Remain on board the space station three Americans, three Russians and a Japanese.