A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon capsule is launched on April 23, 2021 with four astronauts on a NASA commercial crew mission to the International Space Station at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Joe Skipper | Reuters
The four astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule have safely returned to Earth and parachuted to land in the Gulf of Mexico after a record-breaking mission to the International Space Station. The astronauts spent more than five months in space, the longest time any crew has spent in an American-built spaceship.
Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover from NASA and Soichi Noguchi from Japan reached the space station last November via the Resilience kite capsule.
After undocking from the space station at 8:35 p.m. on Saturday, the astronauts traveled through the atmosphere and parachuted to land in the Mexican Gulf near Panama City, Florida at around 2:57 a.m. CET on Sunday. They left the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft less than an hour after landing.
It was reported that the weather conditions were near perfect, with little wind and calm seas. “There really couldn’t have been a more flawless journey home for Crew Dragon Resilience,” said Leah Cheshier, NASA public affairs officer.
The touchdown marked the first time since 1968 that a US spaceship landed in the dark and the second time a space capsule had ever been sprayed down in the Gulf of Mexico.
SpaceX Mission Control greeted the astronauts with a bit of humor after they touched down: “We welcome you back to planet Earth and thank you for flying SpaceX. For those of you who have participated in our frequent flyer program, you have visited this one Traveled 68 million miles. “”
The second operational SpaceX crew mission arrived on the International Space Station in the early morning of April 24 and carried four astronauts for a six-month stay in space.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship ‘Endeavor’, launched the day before with a Falcon 9 rocket, docked at the ISS at 5:22 a.m. EDT. The capsule carried an international squad of astronauts: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Akihiko Hoshide from JAXA and Thomas Pesquet from ESA.
At this point, the Crew 2 mission temporarily brought the total number of astronauts on board the revolving research laboratory to 11.
– CNBC’s Michael Sheetz contributed to this report.