HOUSTON — For the first time since they landed back on Earth, Astronauts from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program held their first public appearance Wednesday night at an 'Astronaut Crew Debrief' at Space Center Houston.
For 170 days, the crew lived aboard the International Space Station where they did about six months of research and experiments. One of them even made history.
A doctor, a geologist, an Air Force pilot and an Italian fighter pilot all splashed down from space on Oct. 14.
“All kinds of science, touching everything from metallurgy to life sciences, in addition to just doing maintenance onboard the station," SpaceX Crew-4 Astronaut Bob Hines said.
The SpaceX Crew-4 Mission traveled 72 million miles and orbited Earth nearly 3,000 times.
“What they’re learning today will take us far, far into the solar system," director for NASA's Johnson Space Center Vanessa Wyche said.
Through that, the astronauts were tasked with a number of experiments, which included studying the aging of immune cells, how to suture and heal wounds in micro-gravity and they studied a new concrete alternative to help in building future communities on the Moon and Mars.
“To not only extend our presence in the solar system but to make life better back on Earth," SpaceX Crew-4 Astronaut Kjell Lindgren said.
But the astronauts say their favorite experiment was farming.
“From what we were told, we were the first crew to successfully grow tomatoes in space.”
Another first was by Astronaut Jessica Watkins. She made history by becoming the first African American woman to serve on a long-duration space station mission.
“Indicative of an exciting future, especially as we look towards Artemis and look towards lunar missions, NASA has a really exciting future ahead," Watkins said.
The crew was honored in an awards ceremony Wednesday. Each of them back on Earth but with hopes of launching back into space. And maybe next time, to the Moon.
“I think we are all super excited about being involved in the human space flight effort right now. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this," Watkins said.