- By Native News Online Staff
Breaking News. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft carrying Nicole Aunapu Mann, the first Native American woman in space, and fellow space explorers from the U.S., Japan and Russia splashed down at approximately 9:02 p.m. EST Saturday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, Florida.
The safe return to earth came after a nearly 19-hour flight from the International Space Station with fellow NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina.
“That was one heck of a ride,” Mann said via radio moments after splashdown. “We're happy to be home. Looking forward to next time.”
Mann, a member of Northern California's Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, added that she couldn't wait to feel the wind on her face and enjoy some Earth food.
Mann and crew returned after 157 days in space. According to NASA, the crew circled the Earth some 2,512 times aboard the ISS, traveling more than 66 million miles before returning home.
Mann became the first Native American woman ever to be launched into space last October 5, 2022. She served as the mission commander on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 space mission on the Dragon spacecraft named Endurance. The SpaceX Crew-5 mission was launched with four other astronauts on board on their way to the International Space Station.
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