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Four astronauts aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon capsule returned home safely. The spacecraft named Resilience splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, Florida, just before 3 a.m. EDT on May 2, 2021.
The astronauts aboard the capsule include NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi from Japan’s space agency. They have set a record for the longest time in space by a crew launched aboard an American-built spacecraft. “Resilience is back on planet Earth, and we’ll take those miles,” said Mike Hopkins, the NASA astronaut commanding the mission.
The last time that NASA astronauts splashed down in a nighttime water landing was in 1968. Apollo 8 was the first crew to orbit the moon.
The current Russian Soyuz and Chinese Shenzhou capsules continue to make ground landings.
The SpaceX craft can safely return to Earth on land or water. After the retirement of the Space Shuttle program, the United States spent almost a decade without the ability to launch astronauts into space. Under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon capsule.
The first time in NASA’s history was that much of the design, development, and testing of new spacecraft, rated for humans, was handed over to the private sector. Contracts worth $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion were awarded to SpaceX by NASA to complete the project. This mission was a successful result of this public-private partnership.
Written by Ebonee Stevenson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware