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After 177 days in space, SpaceX's Crew-3 astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer returned to Earth aboard one of the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Marshburn was part of a panel for Crew-3 members that just splashed down last week following their stay on the International Space Station as part of a joint NASA and SpaceX mission. During the live conference, Marshburn said that while the NASA, SpaceX and Russian-made ships he's flown in are all different, they also feel more or less the same during launch and while re-entering the atmosphere because of simple physics.
"SpaceX was quite a bit smoother [especially] through staging," Marshburn said. "[Landing in] the Shuttle was very smooth. We almost didn’t know we we landed. But distinct differences were enjoyable to observe at both launch and landing."
Marshburn also said re-entry is a "ton of fun," which is probably what makes him an astronaut. Just hearing him describe the lengthy freefall after re-entry would make anybody else's stomach do flips.
Crew-3 arrived back on Earth just as missions to the Moon and Mars are really heating up. NASA's Artemis program is taking a Moon-to-Mars approach, and will work alongside SpaceX for transport down to the lunar surface. SpaceX is also planning its own crewed mission to Mars within — very optimistically — a decade.
Marshburn's review is the perfect reminder of how far we've come in space exploration just during the span of his career, which isn't even over yet. It's pretty fun just to imagine what it feels like to go through a rocket launch on Marshburn's side of the space suit.
And if everything goes according to plan, more of us Earth-bound humans could find out for ourselves.