Four astronauts have returned to earth in a SpaceX capsule -- including Italy's first woman in space -- following a six-month mission on the International Space Station.
The capsule successfully splashed down in the Atlantic off Florida. The homecoming had been delayed by wet and windy weather.
The European Space Agency's Samantha Cristoforetti was one of the four, alongside three astronauts from NASA: Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, the first Black woman to complete a long-term spaceflight
SpaceX delivered their replacements last week.
"It’s been an honour to represent Europe and Italy on the International Space Station, this amazing outpost in Low Earth Orbit. I am grateful beyond words," Cristoforetti tweeted.
Before checking out, the astronauts said they couldn’t wait to have a cold drink with ice, eat some pizza and ice cream, take a shower, revel in nature and, of course, reunite with their families.
NASA planned to shuttle them promptly to Houston once they were off SpaceX’s recovery ship and back on solid ground.
“Getting the first few hugs when we get back is really going to be awesome,” Hines told reporters earlier in the week.
Remaining aboard the space station are three Americans, three Russians and one Japanese.