SpaceX returns 4 astronauts to Earth with first nighttime splashdown since 1968

SpaceX returned 4 astronauts from the Worldwide Area Station on Sunday, making the primary U.S. crew splashdown in darkness because the Apollo 8 moonshot in 1968. 

The Dragon capsule parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama Metropolis, Florida, simply earlier than 3 a.m., ending the second astronaut flight for Elon Musk’s firm.

It was an categorical journey house, lasting simply 6 1/2 hours.

NASA’s Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi, headed house in the identical Dragon capsule that delivered them to the house station final November. 

On this picture constructed from NASA TV video, the SpaceX Dragon capsule lands into the Gulf of Mexico close to the Florida Panhandle early Sunday, Might 2, 2021. SpaceX returned 4 astronauts from the Worldwide Area Station on Sunday, making the primary U.S. crew splashdown in darkness because the Apollo 8 moonshot. (NASA TV by way of AP)

“Thanks in your hospitality,” Hopkins radioed because the capsule undocked 260 miles (420 kilometers) above Mali.

Regardless of the early splashdown hour, the Coast Guard deployed additional patrols — and spotlights — to maintain any night-owl sightseers away. The capsule of the primary SpaceX crew was surrounded by pleasure boaters final summer time, posing a security danger.


This image from video provided by NASA shows the SpaceX capsule as it departs the International Space Station, Saturday, May 1, 2021. A SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts departed the International Space Station late Saturday, aiming for a rare nighttime splashdown to end the company’s second crew flight. (NASA via AP)

This picture from video offered by NASA reveals the SpaceX capsule because it departs the Worldwide Area Station, Saturday, Might 1, 2021. A SpaceX capsule carrying 4 astronauts departed the Worldwide Area Station late Saturday, aiming for a uncommon nighttime splashdown to finish the corporate’s second crew flight. (NASA by way of AP)

Hopkins, the spacecraft commander, rocketed into orbit together with his crew on Nov. 15 from NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart. Their replacements arrived per week in the past aboard their very own Dragon capsule — the identical one which launched SpaceX’s first crew final spring.

The 4 ought to have been again earlier, however excessive offshore wind stored them on the house station a number of additional days. SpaceX and NASA decided one of the best climate can be earlier than daybreak.

The delays allowed Glover to rejoice his forty fifth birthday in house Friday.

“Gratitude, surprise, connection. I’m stuffed with and motivated by these emotions on my birthday, as my first mission to house involves an finish,” Glover tweeted.


Saturday evening’s undocking left seven astronauts on the house station: three People, two Russians, one Japanese and one French.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *