SpaceX Capsule Splashes Down, Bringing Four Astronauts Back Home

Crew-1 Astronauts on the Resilience

Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

After more than five months in outer space, SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronauts returned to Earth on May 2, 2021. They made a splash, both literally and figuratively, as they landed off the coast of Florida at 2:56 a.m. EDT. The capsule carried NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi. This was Dragon's first long-term mission and is a big push for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which sees it teaming with outside entities to develop human spaceflight.

The successful mission and safe return of the Crew-1 astronauts is a big boost for Elon Musk's SpaceX. The team first took off in the Falcon 9 rocket on November 15, 2020 and landed at the International Space Station a little over a day later. Their 167-day mission was the longest for an American spacecraft since the last Skylab mission in 1974. And their return is the first nighttime splashdown with a crew aboard since the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

Once the capsule, which they dubbed Resilience, touched down in the Gulf of Mexico, it was recovered by SpaceX's team. The capsule was hoisted onto the ship Go Navigator, where the crew received medical checks before taking a flight to Houston. The Crew-1 astronauts come with a wide range of experience. For Victor Glover, it was his first spaceflight and for Hopkins and Walker, it was their second. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi has now been on three spaceflights for a total of 345 days.

While at the International Space Station, the team conducted spacewalks, contributed to scientific research and technology demonstrations, and participated in public engagement events. They even found time to test a tape dispenser designed by high school students as part of a special NASA program.

Though they've successfully returned astronauts back to Earth, SpaceX is not taking it easy. On April 23, astronauts from the Crew-2 mission took off. They'll spend nearly six months at the International Space Station on the second long-term mission. The Crew-2 astronauts are scheduled to come back home on October 31, 2021. This will give them enough time to help the astronauts of Crew-3, who should arrive a week earlier, settle in.

SpaceX's Dragon Crew returned to Earth after 167 days in space.

The Resilience capsule detached from the ISS and shuttled the four astronauts home.

Resilience splashed down off the coast on Florida at 2:56 am on May 2.

This is the first nighttime splashdown with a crew since Apollo 8 in 1968.

After the capsule was recovered, the astronauts were given medical checks before flying to Houston.

The crew consisted of four NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

This is just the beginning. Crew-2 is already at the ISS for SpaceX's second long-duration mission.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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