SpaceX safely returned four astronauts from the International Space Station on Sunday, making the first U.S. crew splashdown in darkness since the Apollo 8 moonshot.
The Crew Dragon capsule parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, just before 3 a.m., ending the second astronaut flight for Elon Musk’s company.
The crew – NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi – had launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 15, propelled by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
“It’s not very often you get to wake up on the Space Station and go to sleep in Houston,” Holly Ridings, NASA’s chief flight director said at a news conference on Sunday.
The 167-day mission was the longest for a crew capsule launching from the U.S. The previous record of 84 days was set by NASA’s final Skylab station astronauts in 1974.
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