Richland astronaut Kayla Barron is returning to Earth after nearly six months in space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After nearly half a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Richland High School grad Kayla Barron is returning to Earth along with her crewmates.

NASA live-streamed Crew 3’s departure from the ISS online and included an estimated splashdown time of 12:43 a.m. EST/9:43 p.m. PST. Coincidentally, May 5 is National Astronaut Day in the United States.

While aboard the ISS, Kayle Barron and her crewmates worked on experiments meant to benefit future space travelers. Her team’s research was designated to improve conditions and viability for all people heading into space moving forward.

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The team conducted flame tests, cultured cotton, observed the viability of various materials in space, studied how plants and roots develop in microgravity, harvested chiles, and explored physics. This is just a small sum of the dozens of experiments and projects the team worked on.

During this trip, Kayla Barron was classified as a mission specialist. She used her extensive background from NASA training and an engineering degree to fill a crucial role on these missions.

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Ahead of her return to Earth, Barron took to social media for some self-reflection on the emotions and lessons learned during the course of this journey:

Living and working aboard the International Space Station has been a transformative experience and an extraordinary privilege. Part of me is ready to come home—I miss my loved ones dearly, and wouldn’t mind sipping coffee out of a cup instead of through a straw—but part of me is having a hard time letting go.

As our mission comes to an end, I’ve been processing a lot of conflicting emotions. But most of all, I feel grateful—grateful for the family, friends, teachers, coaches, and mentors who nurtured my curiosity, taught me to pick myself up when I stumbled and fell, and helped me develop the courage to chase my dreams; grateful for my husband, who loves me unconditionally, and who’s unwavering belief in me helps me believe in myself; grateful for the instructors who prepared me so well for this complex mission; grateful for the dedicated flight control teams around the world who are the true experts, without whom we would be lost; and grateful for my crewmates, who have taught me so much about how to be the best version of myself.

As I reflect on this experience and what it means to return home, I’ve been thinking about transitions a lot. Even though they can be challenging, our gorgeous planet has shown me that transitions also hold their own unique beauty, so here’s to honoring an incredible experience by embracing change, and raising our gaze to the horizon and the next adventure.

Crew 3’s splashdown is scheduled to be live-streamed on YouTube via NASA TV. If you are interested in watching that stream, you can tune in around 9:30 p.m. PST by clicking here.


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