Crew-5 returns from Space!

On Saturday, March 11, 2023, the 4 member crew blazed a trail of plasma through Earth’s upper atmosphere, safely tucked inside Crew Dragon Endurance. NASA Astronauts, Mission Specialists Nicole Mann, and Pilot Josh Cassada, along with JAXA Astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos Cosmonaut Anna Kikina splashed down at 9:02 pm EST after spending 157 days, 10 hours, and 1 minute at the International Space Station, where they performed various experiments that will help us learn how to live and work in space, as well as on Earth.

I managed to capture their firey descent down into the Gulf of Mexico, west of Tampa, FL by manually tracking the fireball in which they were safely contained. When looking at that fireball I saw shooting across the sky, and in the video, it’s hard to imagine that behind those glowing “flames”, which are somewhere around 2,700°F (1,480°C), are 4 human beings on a trip back home. Not to mention that just several hours previously they were still up in space floating around!

This is only the 2nd time I’ve ever been able to see the plasma trail from a human-rated spacecraft or any spacecraft for that matter. I have seen space shuttle re-entries before, but those were long after their plasma trail, for the lack of a better term, went out. The first one I wasn’t expecting to see at all. I was more expecting to hear the sonic booms, as various sources said that was a possibility, so I was out waiting to hear them, but instead, I saw the plasma trail behind the trees. I forget what mission that was for though.

In the future I’m hoping to have a much smoother track of the re-entry, but due to weather conditions, timing, and the orbit of the ISS when the crew dragon undocks there’s no telling until a day or so beforehand if I’ll be able to see it. Until then, enjoy this video and several screenshots from the re-entry of Crew-5!