SpaceX Crew-1 is safely back on Earth.
The Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City just before 3 a.m. Sunday, ending the second astronaut flight for Elon Musk’s company.
It was an express trip home for the four astronauts, lasting just 6 ½ hours.
📍Destination: Panama City, Florida— NASA (@NASA) May 2, 2021
At 2:56am ET (06:56 UT) , @NASA_Astronauts @AstroVicGlover, @Astro_illini and Shannon Walker along with @Astro_Soichi of @JAXA_en touchdown on Earth after a six-month science mission aboard the @Space_Station. pic.twitter.com/02Qw0BsrNc
The four astronauts, three American and one Japanese, will make their way back to Houston after spending six months on the International Space Station.
This is the first nighttime splashdown of a U.S. spacecraft with a crew on board since Apollo 8′s return in 1968.
Let’s give NASA's @SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts a hand!— NASA (@NASA) May 2, 2021
👏 Welcome home.
In the most fitting fashion, their mission, which certified the return of astronaut launches from the U.S., ended with an equally historic nighttime splashdown at 2:56am ET (06:56 UT): https://t.co/xQUMykAB30 pic.twitter.com/pt3lSHkmlH
The 167-day mission was the longest for a crew capsule launching from the U.S. The previous record was set in 1974 with 84 days in space.
The team launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in November.
The four astronauts undocked from the International Space Station Saturday night.
Undocking confirmed! After 167 days in space – the most for a U.S. spacecraft since the final Skylab mission in 1974 – NASA’s @SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts are coming home. Splashdown is set for 2:57am ET (6:57 UT). Ask questions using #LaunchAmerica. pic.twitter.com/Np49P4mxxl— NASA (@NASA) May 2, 2021
All four main parachutes could be seen deploying just before splashdown, traveling 16 mph. After splashdown, the capsule, named Resilience, looked like a massive toasted marshmallow. Outside temperatures reach over 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit during reentry.
Mission Control radioed moments after the splashdown, “On behalf of NASA and SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer program, you’ve earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”
Spacecraft Commander Mike Hopkins replied, “We’ll take those miles Are they transferrable?”
Hopkins is grateful to be back.
“On behalf of Crew-1 and our families, we just want to say thank you for this amazing vehicle. I’ve said it and I’ll say it again, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when people come together. Finally, I would like to say y’all are changing the world. Congratulations. It’s great to be back,” Hopkins said.
“On behalf of Crew-1 and our families, we just want to say thank you...It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people come together. Y’all are changing the world. Congratulations. It’s great to be back.” – NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins (@Astro_illini) pic.twitter.com/6Bxpwp79ly— NASA (@NASA) May 2, 2021
The Coast Guard was out in full force to enforce a 10-mile keep-out zone around the capsule. This was a problem last August when the first two SpaceX astronauts returned to Earth. Boaters got too close and swarmed the capsule.
Within a half-hour of splashdown, the capsule had been hoisted onto the recovery ship. The capsule will head back to Cape Canaveral for refurbishment for SpaceX’s first private crew mission in September.
Splashdown! The @SpaceX Crew Dragon, Resilience, lands in the Gulf of Mexico after undocking from @Space_Station with Crew-1 @NASA_Astronauts @AstroVicGlover, @Astro_illini, and Shannon Walker, and @JAXA_en Soichi Noguchi. More photos coming: 📷https://t.co/pJxSDC6QsN pic.twitter.com/IoMaemqSlz— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) May 2, 2021
Saturday night’s undocking left seven people at the International Space Station. Four arrived a week ago via SpaceX.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.