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.
“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.
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.