Science & Exploration


In brief

After almost six months aboard the International Space Station, ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer is coming home. Watch all the action, from undocking to splashdown, live on ESA Web TV.


The hatch of Crew Dragon Endurance will be closed at around 04:20 BST/05:20 CEST Thursday 5 May with undocking scheduled for 06:05 BST/07:05 CEST. At this time, Matthias and his Crew-3 colleagues, NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron, will wave goodbye to their International Space Station colleagues and begin their journey to Earth.

Crew-3 astronauts check their SpaceX suits ahead of departure

Endurance, with the four astronauts on board, is expected to splashdown off the coast of Florida, USA, at approximately 05:43 BST/06:43 CEST Friday 6 May. Matthias will then fly back to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, arriving at around 21:30 BST/22:30 CEST on Friday.

Matthias and his Crew-3 colleagues, NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron, were launched to the Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, on 11 November 2021.

The name of Matthias’s ESA mission, which officially began when Crew-3 arrived on Station, is Cosmic Kiss. This is the first space mission for Matthias who selected the name and patch design as a declaration of love for space.

Recently, Matthias and his colleagues welcomed Crew-4 to the International Space Station. This crew includes ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, as well as NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins. Their arrival marked the first time ESA has had two astronauts on the Station at the same time since Paolo Nespoli and Roberto Vittori were in orbit together in 2011.

Mission Minerva meets Cosmic Kiss | Two astronauts in orbit

In the days ahead of his departure, Matthias says he has spent most of his time “packing up and preparing to return to our beautiful planet Earth.

“Thank you to everyone around the world for your incredible support of this mission,” he adds. “I am very happy to see Samantha up here continuing Europe’s human presence in space and I’m convinced that she will continue all the outstanding work that was prepared by scientists on the ground.”

To learn more about the missions of Matthias and Samantha, visit the Cosmic Kiss and Minerva mission pages. You can also find Samantha on TikTok under the username @astrosamantha. Find live coverage of major mission events on ESA Web TV.

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