BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado astronaut who’s been in outer space for six months is making her way back to Earth this week. FOX31 has been tracking the historic journey of Jessica Watkins and her return home is no exception.
As of Wednesday night, the plan is for Watkins and the crew to return on Thursday, but it all depends on the weather. NASA told FOX31 it all depends on visibility, rain, wind and more.
It was a successful lift-off back in April as millions watched the SpaceX Dragon exit Earth and enter outer space. Four astronauts are onboard the spacecraft, including Colorado’s own Jessica Watkins.
“Yeah, I’m still working on the backflip,” Watkins excitedly said back in April.
Jessica Watkins conquers space milestones
The world was watching as she learned to flip and float in space. The Boulder County native has come a long way since. Video posted to NASA’s Twitter page shows Watkins with a camera looking at Earth through a lens.
“We’re up in the Canadian plains now, and what’s immediately obvious once we get up here is the age difference in the surface,” Watkins explains on camera.
She’s not only conquering milestones for space exploration, but also a milestone for diversity. Watkins made history by becoming the first Black woman to journey to the International Space Station for an extended mission.
“I’m just really grateful to be a part of a long legacy of Black astronauts that have come before me,” Watkins said.
Space and gardening, aging and the immune system
Watkins, 34, is a geologist and researcher on top of her tenure with NASA. For the past six months, she and the rest of Crew4 have been capturing Earth’s beauty, working on science investigations in the lab, studying immune systems in microgravity, aging in space and gardening.
The crew has been growing carrots, onions and leafy greens in space. Watkins has been working on Xroots, testing new techniques to see if crops can grow in large quantities in space.
“I have set the bar pretty low as far as my gardening capabilities on Earth, so I’ve learned a lot trying to exercise my green thumb here on board,” Watkins laughed.
The crew did a final farewell interview from space this week as they prepare for their return with a new orbital perspective.
If everything goes according to plan, the crew will be rescued and recovered safely on Thursday. They will undock from the space station and their spacecraft will splash down on Earth into the ocean. There are seven splash sites around the state of Florida and the exact location where the vessel will land will be determined in the hours approaching their return.