SpaceX successfully welcomes 4 astronauts from space off Florida’s coast

Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Evgeniyqw

Time flies when you’re having fun… or when you’re in space.

Four astronauts made a safe return to Earth, securely strapped into the SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule early Sunday morning, marking an end to a half-year mission to the International Space Station (ISS). 

The astronauts, Mike Hopkins, Soichi Noguchi, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover, made their epic splashdown at 2:57 a.m. ET., just off Florida’s coast near Panama City in the Gulf of Mexico.

Courtesy: SpaceX Twitter
Courtesy: SpaceX Twitter

The vessel, named Resilience, was swarmed by SpaceX boats the moment it touched down in the still waters of the Gulf, as crews prepped for recovery. 

“On behalf of NASA and SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” a crew operations and resources engineer (CORE) said on the live webcast. “For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer program, you’ve earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”

The Crew-1 mission marked the first long-duration flight into space and back to Earth for Elon Musk’s company and the second to carry astronauts. 

The 68 million-mile trek came to a thrilling conclusion when the capsule broke through the atmosphere around 17,000 mph and safely crash-landed into the ocean at 16 mph. The crew experienced an estimated 3-5 Gs of gravitational force during reentry, which roughly matched their exit force on takeoff back in November 2020 from the Kennedy Space Center. 

“It is great to be back on planet Earth,” mission commander Hopkins said over comms while waiting for the capsule’s recovery. “And we’ll take those miles. Are they transferable?”

NASA noted that the conditions off Panama City were “nearly perfect” for a landing with calm wind conditions and waves less than 1 foot in height. Mission managers had the choice of selecting where off the coast they could land and chose that spot based on the conditions.

NASA is paying SpaceX to transport astronauts into space as part of the Commercial Crew Program in an effort to launch the U.S. to the forefront of the space race.

Following the arrival of the Resilience crew, another SpaceX launch is scheduled to happen tomorrow, pending weather conditions. The launch will fly 60 Starlink satellites into space and will mark SpaceX’s 26th internet mission

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