We’ve teased that the term “soft” landing is utterly inappropriate, but our latest video makes that painfully clear. The preparation, waving goodbye, and gentle undocking are a deceptive moment of calm before the parachutes fling open and the chaos begins.
The massive cloud of dust thrown up by the soft landing of astronauts Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov when they returned from the International Space Station on Thursday makes it incredibly clear that “soft” is a relative term.
Expedition 42 to the International Space Station is officially over with the safe landing of Barry "Butch" Wilmore, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova in Kazakhstan. The decent featured a brief surge of drama when communications flickered out.
Despite yet another delay in the launch of their first-ever deep space mission, SpaceX still had reason to celebrate today. After a month attached to the International Space Station, the SpaceX Dragon capsule returned to Earth, splashing down with a load of scientific supplies.
SpaceX's dull cargo run to the space station featured an exciting secondary mission: the first-ever attempt to land the booster rocket on a floating spaceport drone ship for recovery and reuse. The Falcon 9 hit the barge too hard, impacting rather than landing, a failure so close to success it's worthy of celebration.
It's time for a crew swap on the International Space Station. Astronauts Reid Wiseman, Alexander Gerst, and Max Suraev had a flawless descent in the Soyuz spacecraft only to have their homecoming was marred by below-freezing temperatures and a sharp gust of wind tipping their capsule over after landing.
China's Chang'e 5 test vehicle has successfully completed the most recent stage of its lunar return technology demonstration. Launched on October 24th, the spacecraft swung around the far side of the moon, snapped a gorgeous photo of home, and safely returned to Earth on Halloween.
The Dragon capsule detached from the International Space Station, carrying 1,486 kilograms of cargo safely back to Earth. This fourth cargo mission by SpaceX carried a wide variety of science samples, including the first live mammals transported by the commercial company.
Is an astronaut still an astronaut when they aren't in space? This is a good week to contemplate the question, as they're swarming in, on, over, and under the Earth with landings, launches, caving expeditions, and even living under the sea.
After boosting a communications satellite into orbit, SpaceX's Falcon 9 reusable booster rocket performed a successful soft-landing on the Atlantic Ocean. Best of all? A camera strapped to the rocket captured it for our viewing pleasure. Rocket selfies are the best selfies.