Four astronauts have successfully splashed down off the coast of Florida, ending a five-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
The crew of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission, consisting of NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, had spent 167 days in orbit. During their stay on the ISS, the crew conducted a variety of experiments and spacewalks, as well as taking part in educational outreach programs with schools around the world.
The four astronauts left the ISS in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft early on Sunday morning, and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida about two hours later. Their return to Earth marks the first time a SpaceX vehicle has been used for a crewed mission to the ISS, and the first time a spacecraft has returned from space with a crew since the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down in 2011.
The astronauts were greeted by a team of recovery personnel in boats and helicopters, who helped them out of the spacecraft and onto the recovery vessel. The four astronauts were then taken to the Kennedy Space Center for medical evaluations.
The successful completion of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission is a major milestone for the commercial space industry, and a sign of things to come for future missions to the ISS and beyond. SpaceX has plans for additional crewed missions to the ISS later this year, and is also working with NASA on plans for deep space missions to the Moon and beyond.
The safe return of the four astronauts is a cause for celebration, and a testament to the hard work and dedication of the teams from NASA and SpaceX who made the mission possible.