SpaceX, an American aerospace company, has recently announced the return of four astronauts from the ISS (International Space Station) aboard its Crew Dragon capsule. This space capsule made splashdown landing in the Gulf of Mexico following nearly 6 months of its arrival at the orbital laboratory in November 2020.
The recent mission marks the 1st operational and long-duration crew under the Commercial Crew Program of NASA. For those uninitiated, the capsule splashed down the coast of Panama City in Florida at 2:56 am ET on 2nd May 2021, marking the 1st nighttime splashdown of a crewed U.S. spacecraft since the significant landing of Apollo 8 in the Pacific Ocean in 1968.
In a live feed of the infrared cameras, a pair of 1st-responding fast boats rushed towards the space capsule to ensure the detachment of parachutes from Crew Dragon upon hitting the water surface during the latest Crew Dragon’s nighttime plunge. Soon after, a recovery ship of SpaceX arrived to hoist the spacecraft on a platform by using a crane.
Under the assistance of the medics, the four astronauts emerged from the Crew Dragon capsule prior to making their return abroad a NASA plane to the astronaut headquarters of the agency in Houston, Texas. These Crew-1 astronauts were launched to the ISS from Florida in November 2020 and tallied over 167 days in the space station, which is a science laboratory that has been housing the international astronaut crews for over 2 decades. Initially, their return was set on 28th April and later got delayed due to the high wind penetration in the splashdown zone.
Known as Resilience, the recent Crew Dragon spacecraft is the 2nd SpaceX capsule to fly humans to the space station, following the 1st crewed mission called Demo-2 in May 2020. The Resilience mission has set a record for being the longest-serving spacecraft in the U.S. to be docked on the space station, crossing the 84-day record set by the Skylab 4 crew in 1974.