WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico May 2, returning four astronauts from a five-and-a-half-month stay on the International Space Station.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft Resilience undocked from the station at 8:35 p.m. Eastern May 1. After departing the vicinity of the station and performing a 16-minute deborbit burn, the spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast from Panama City, Florida, at 2:57 a.m. Eastern May 2. On board the spacecraft were NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
The splashdown marked the end of the Crew-1 mission, the first operational commercial crew mission. That mission started with a Nov. 15 launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9, with the spacecraft docking with the station a day later.
The splashdown was the first at night by an American crewed spacecraft since Apollo 8, which splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after its flight around the moon in December 1968. That was the only other U.S. crewed mission to land in the ocean at night.
The decision to splash down at night was driven by the weather conditions. NASA postponed ...