SpaceX Dragon and Crew Successfully Splash Down in Gulf of Mexico

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The four astronauts from SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission for NASA successfully re-entered the atmosphere in a Dragon capsule and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, near Panama City and off the Florida Coast earlier today at 2:56 a.m. EDT.

The mission consisted of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

The Crew-1 mission launched on Nov. 15, 2020. Crew Dragon left the International Space Station (ISS) on late Saturday after their departure had already been delayed twice due to bad weather at the splashdown site.

The Crew Dragon capsule landed exactly on target, and was quickly retrieved by SpaceX recovery teams and ships working in the dark of night. The splashdown turned out to be a momentous occasion, marking the first nighttime splashdown with U.S. astronauts in 53 years.

“The vehicle is certified to land during the day or night”, said Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew program manager. “And we’ve been practicing with the recovery crews to land in day or night”, he added.

A SpaceX crew operations and resources engineer said the following to the Crew-1 astronauts following splashdown:

Dragon, 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 flier program, you’ve earned 68 million miles [109 million kilometers] on this voyage.

SpaceX’s first crewed mission was the Demo-2, which launched in May 2020 but only lasted 2 months. Crew-1 has become SpaceX’s first successful, full-fledged crewed mission to the International Space Station that lasted the full six months.

SpaceX’s third crewed mission to the ISS, Crew-2, launched late April after a delay in launch and relieved the Crew-1 astronauts. Crew-2 will splash down later this year.

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