Not long since they arrived, Russia destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based missile, creating a cloud of debris that initially threatened the integrity of the space station. The Crew-3 astronauts and fellow Russian cosmonauts had to shelter inside their spacecraft in case the resulting debris from the blast damaged the space station and they needed to make a quick escape.
Fortunately, the debris did not harm the ISS, and the crew returned to work as normal. They’ve been living and working on the orbiting lab, conducting science experiments as well as maintaining the station through spacewalks.
A few months after the satellite’s destruction, Russia invaded Ukraine, increasing tensions between the United States and Russia on Earth. Questions and concerns regarding the stability of the ISS partnership between NASA and Russia’s state space corporation, Roscosmos, were raised, and whether it would affect the space operations.
The Crew-3 astronauts continued their work as planned alongside their Russian colleagues, and also welcomed a new crew of Russian cosmonauts to the station in March. As Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, hinted about a possible end to Russia’s ISS agreement, NASA administrator Bill Nelson assured Congress on May 3rd that it was business as usual onboard the ISS.
The Crew-3’s safe and punctual return marks the end of another routine human spaceflight mission to the ISS for both SpaceX and NASA. SpaceX maintains a contract with NASA to escort astronauts to and from the International Space Station periodically as part of an initiative called the Commercial Crew Program. Crew-3’s trip was SpaceX’s third routine mission to the ISS for NASA and is the company’s eighth time launching astronauts into space.
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