SpaceX safely returned four astronauts to Earth on May 2, splashing down into the Gulf of Mexico after nearly six months in the International Space Station.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi splashed down minutes before 3 a.m. EDT off the coast of Panama City, Florida after 167 days in space — the longest duration mission for a U.S. spacecraft.
“We’ve accomplished another incredible spaceflight for America and our commercial and international partners,” Senator Bill Nelson, who serves as the NASA Administrator, said in a statement, welcoming and congratulating the astronauts for a safe and successful splashdown.
“Safe, reliable transportation to the International Space Station is exactly the vision that NASA had when the agency embarked on the commercial crew program,” Nelson also said.
“It really could not have been a more flawless journey home for Crew Dragon Resilience,” NASA Public Affairs Officer Leah Cheshier said, referring to the SpaceX capsule that brought the astronauts back to Earth.
The return trip, which lasted six and a half hours, became the first nighttime splashdown of a United States spacecraft since the return of Apollo 8 in 1968.
Seven people remain at the orbital space station, including the four astronauts who SpaceX sent last week.
The record for the longest duration mission was previously held by the final Skylab mission in 1974, which lasted for 84 days in space.