ORLANDO, Fla. — A few dozen sunrises were enough for the crew of Inspiration4, which returned to Earth nearly three days after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center becoming the first all-civilian crew to launch into orbit.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience and its four passengers splashed down at 7:06 p.m. in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
Weather remained calm as the deorbit maneuvers ran like clockwork with the final descent taking less than an hour.
“Thanks so much SpaceX. It was a heck of a ride for us,” said mission commander Jared Issacman. “We’re just getting started.”
Even though this is not a NASA mission, SpaceX worked with the Coast Guard to ensure the recovery zone was clear of public vessels, something that was an issue on the first Crew Dragon landing with passengers in 2020. The spacecraft will next be hoisted onto the deck of a recovery vessel, and the crew will exit the spacecraft before flying back by helicopter to Kennedy Space Center.
Isaacman along with Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski are only the fourth set of passengers to fly on a Crew Dragon, and were the first to land in the Atlantic. The three previous missions, all ferrying NASA astronauts from the International Space Station, landed in the Gulf of Mexico.
Just before deorbit burn, video from SpaceX showed Sembroski enjoying the film “Spaceballs” on his tablet.
“That is great. They’re just relaxing, very nice and comfortable inside Dragon,” said SpaceX commentator Andy Tran.
They spent the first two days of their voyage orbiting up to 365 miles altitude at 17,500 mph, which meant the crew was able to witness about 15 sunrises and sunsets a day.
On Saturday morning, the spacecraft descended to 226 miles altitude to line up its ground track with the planned landing site.
At 5:32 a.m. the forward hatch closed, so no more views from the Dragon’s newly installed cupola window, the largest continuous window that’s ever been put into space.