SpaceX Crew-7 astronauts undock from the ISS for March 12 return to Earth

Four astronauts left their orbiting home today (March 11) to return to Earth.

SpaceX Crew-7 and its four astronauts undocked from the International Space Station at 11:20 a.m. EDT (1520 GMT), with their departure carried live on NASA Television. The undocking took place over Hawaii, according to NASA's broadcast.

"Enjoy the last few hours in orbit, and soft landings. Can't wait to see you guys in a couple of weeks," NASA astronaut Loral O'Hara, still on board ISS, told the departing crew.

The international crew includes NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Satoshi Furukawa and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov. Their mission will last 199 days, assuming an on-time splashdown tomorrow (March 12).

Related: Meet the SpaceX Crew-7 astronauts launching to the ISS on Aug. 25

The four crewmembers of SpaceX’s Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station pose for a photo in their spacesuits during a training session at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. From left: mission specialist Konstantin Borisov, pilot Andreas Mogensen, commander Jasmin Moghbeli and mission specialist Satoshi Furukawa. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Should the return to Earth continue as scheduled, Crew-7 should splash down off the coast of Florida no earlier than Tuesday (March 12) at 5:35 a.m. EDT (0935 GMT), NASA says. But that will be dependent on splashdown site selection. Coverage is currently scheduled to begin at 4:30 a.m. EDT (0830 GMT).

Crew-7, riding aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endurance, launched to the ISS on Aug. 26 for a half-year stay aboard the orbiting complex. They performed hundreds of experiments, packed and unpacked several cargo ships of supplies, and hosted the private Axiom Space Ax-3 crew during their briefer, approximately two-week ISS visit.

Moghbeli was part of the fourth-ever all-woman spacewalk on Nov. 1, 2023 alongside her NASA astronaut colleague, O'Hara, who had arrived on ISS separately via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. They replaced a faulty electronics box, among other duties.

Another spacewalk, with less pressing work planned, was at first postponed and then canceled after a leak at the Russian segment of the ISS in October. It would have included Mogensen, on his first-ever spacewalk, and Moghbeli. (NASA at first postponed the spacewalk as a precaution against ammonia due to the leak, but spacewalk availability also depends on factors like cargo ship arrivals or departures, as well as other space station duties.)

"NASA will need more time to assess the readiness of the EVA," Mogensen posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, from the ISS on Oct. 11, 2023, shortly after the postponement was initially announced. "I fully support the safety-first approach we always take when it comes to space, even if it means waiting a bit longer to go on our spacewalk."

This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. EDT to reflect adjusted undocking timing from NASA, and again at 11:25 a.m. EDT after the undocking, and again at 11:35 a.m. EDT after crew comments.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: