Four astronauts aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon craft splashed down off the coast of Florida on Sunday, ending an eventful five-month mission in orbit around the Earth.
The astronauts included Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, all of the United States, and Soichi Noguchi of Japan. All four were part of the Crew-1 mission, the first full-duration mission to the International Space Station (ISS) to be conducted by SpaceX.
The Crew Dragon craft, named Resilience, departed the ISS on Saturday and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere at 8:35 a.m. EST on Sunday. The craft then made a successful splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Panama City, Florida.
The mission was a success for both SpaceX and NASA, who have been collaborating to expand access to space. This was the first time a private space company has been able to send a crew of astronauts to the ISS and return them safely to Earth.
This mission was also notable for its duration, as it was the longest any crew has stayed in space on a single mission. The crew spent 168 days in orbit, during which time they conducted hundreds of experiments and conducted several spacewalks.
The Crew-1 mission marks the beginning of a new era in space exploration, with regular trips to the ISS and other destinations in the future. This is a major milestone for SpaceX, which is now officially a provider of human spaceflight services.
The astronauts are now being evaluated by medical teams, but are expected to be in good health. They will be returning to their families and colleagues, who have been eagerly awaiting their return.