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NASA's 4-astronaut team departs International Space Station on flight back to Earth

NASA's 4-astronaut team departs International Space Station on flight back to Earth

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The third long-duration team of astronauts launched by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA safely departed the orbiting outpost early on Thursday

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying three U.S. NASA astronauts and a German astronaut from the European Space Agency undocked from the ISS at 1:20 a.m. ED

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Live video showing the capsule drifting away from the station as the two vehicles soared high over Australia was shown on a NASA webcast.

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Wearing helmeted white-and-black spacesuits, the four astronauts were seen strapped into the crew cabin shortly before the spacecraft separated from the space station

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A series of several brief rocket thrusts then autonomously pushed the capsule safely clear of the ISS and lowered its orbit to line up the spacecraft for later atmospheric re-entry and splashdown.

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If all goes smoothly, the Crew Dragon craft, dubbed Endurance, will parachute into the sea off the coast of Florida at 12:43 a.m. EDT on Friday

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