SpaceX Crew Dragon Returns to Earth from International Space Station, Completing Mission

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Eric Todisco
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Mission accomplished!

Early Sunday, the four astronauts onboard the historic SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule returned to Earth safely, splashing down in parachutes in the Gulf of Mexico, NASA announced on their website.

The mission, which launched into space to the International Space Station (ISS) in November and included NASA's Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, and Victor Glover and Japan's Soichi Noguchi, marked the longest-ever duration for a space crew in a U.S. vehicle.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Resilience, undocked from the ISS at 8:35 p.m. ET Saturday and made a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico in Panama City, Florida at 2:57 a.m. ET. Sunday.

The waves were reportedly calm and the weather was clear upon landing.

"Welcome home Victor, Michael, Shannon, and Soichi, and congratulations to the teams at NASA and SpaceX who worked so hard to ensure their safe and successful splashdown," said Sen. Bill Nelson, a NASA administrator.

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"We've accomplished another incredible spaceflight for America and our commercial and international partners. 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 added.

This marked NASA's first nighttime splash since 1968 and is the second time a space capsule has landed in the Gulf of Mexico, according to CNBC. It also marked the first operational mission of the SpaceX capsule.

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According to NASA, Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi spent 167 days aboard the ISS and traveled 71,242,199 statute miles during their 168 days in orbit, completing 2,688 orbits around Earth.

During their mission, the astronauts onboard Resilience contributed to scientific investigations and technology demonstrations, as well as spacewalks and public engagement events, NASA reported.

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RELATED: SpaceX Launches First Full NASA Crew to the International Space Station

The return of the Resilience space capsule comes just over a week after the launch of NASA's Space-X Crew-2 Mission. The crew jetted off into space on April 23 and will remain on the ISS for about six months.

The first manned SpaceX flight launched in May 2020 and was followed up by the second six months later.