SpaceX returned 4 astronauts to Earth early Sunday after a six-month keep on the International Space Station, splashing them down within the Gulf of Mexico. It was the primary nighttime US splashdown since Apollo 8 in 1968.
The Crew-1 astronauts, three American and one Japanese, landed close to Panama City, Florida, simply earlier than 3 a.m. ET. It was the second time people have returned to Earth on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
“We welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” SpaceX’s Mission Control radioed moments after splashdown. “For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer program, you’ve earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”
“We’ll take those miles,” spacecraft commander Col. Mike Hopkins mentioned moments after touchdown. “Are they transferrable?”
The Crew Dragon capsule, named Resilience, launched in November with NASA astronauts Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker on board — together with Soichi Noguchi of Japan’s house company, JAXA. The undocking leaves seven astronauts on the ISS, because the Crew-2 mission arrived on the Endeavour spacecraft earlier within the week.
“All four crew members are in great shape and great spirits and doing really well,” Holly Ridings, NASA’s chief flight director, mentioned at a information convention after the touchdown.
The astronauts’ 167-day keep aboard the ISS was the longest for a crew launching from the US, breaking the earlier file of 84 days set by Skylab astronauts in 1974.
The final predawn splashdown occurred on Dec. 27, 1968, when Apollo 8, the primary crewed flight to the moon, landed within the Pacific Ocean close to Hawaii.