NASA Crew-1 Dragon Astronauts Depart ISS for Safe Splashdown Making 1st US Nighttime Water Landing Since Apollo 8

NASA Crew-1 Dragon Astronauts Depart ISS for Safe Splashdown Making 1st US Nighttime Landing Since Apollo 8
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Splashdown: Support teams work around the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, Sunday, May 2, 2021. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission was the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – After completing a six month science stint aboard the International Space Station (ISS) the four person multinational astronaut team on the NASA Crew-1 mission departed aboard their commercial SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Saturday evening and safely splashed down overnight this morning making the first nighttime water landing of astronauts since NASA’s historic Apollo 8 mission to the Moon and back in 1968.

The four astronauts splashed down safely aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience and returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted splashdown at 2:56 a.m. EDT, Sunday, May 2, off the coast of Panama City, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico – thereby completing NASA’s first commercial crew, long-duration mission aboard the ISS.

All 4 astronauts from NASA and JAXA were healthy and in great spirits and flashed thumbs up as SpaceX recovery crews assisted them exiting the Crew Dragon capsule – looking again like a toasted marshmallow while experiencing and surviving the scorching heats of reentry endured during the plunge through Earth’s atmosphere.

The Earth return comes 167 days after the crew members arrived at the orbiting microgravity research laboratory and a total mission time of 168 days in space.

The NASA SpaceX Crew-1 astronaut quartet comprises NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Their return was also delayed several times this past week due to poor weather in the recovery zone – thus the four got a bonus mission extension of a few days with the crew on board ISS that was briefly enlarged to 11 following the arrival of NASA SpaceX Crew-2 last week on April 23.

 

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission was the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts to the ISS as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Expedition 65 crew comprising Crew-2 astronauts wearing black shirts and seven others in blue shirts from Crew-1 and Soyuz MS-18 pose on the International Space Station on April 24, 2021. From left to right (front): Mike Hopkins, Soichi Noguchi, Akihiko Hoshide, Shane Kimbrough, Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover. From left to right (rear): Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy, and Pyotr Dubrov.

Crew-1 also marks the longest-duration mission of a crewed American spacecraft to date – besting the previous record setting duration of the final Skylab crew on Skylab 4 crew of three who spent 84 days aloft in 1973-74 aboard America’s 1st space station and the NASA SpaceX Demo-2 crew of two who spent two months at the station on the 1st Crew Dragon mission last year.

“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, who was confirmed by the Senate to serve as NASA’s next Administrator on April 29.

“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.”

NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, left, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, right are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after landing in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, at 2:56 a.m. EDT May 2, 2021. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The entire event from undocking to splashdown to hatch opening to astronaut exit was carried live and continuously on NASA TV starting through Saturday afternoon into Sunday overnight this morning.

Crews aboard SpaceX recovery vessels quickly recovered the spacecraft and astronauts.

The GO Navigator ship used its Dragon nest hoist to haul Crew Dragon Resilience out of the Gulf waters

After returning to shore, the astronauts will fly back to Houston.

The four astronauts aboard Crew Dragon Resilience officially undocked from the ISS at 8:35 p.m. ET Saturday

After undoing 2 sets of 6 hook and latches holding the 2 ship firmly together they then completed a series of 4 departure burn thruster firings to separate their spaceship and back away from the station.

They undocked from the zenith or space facing port of the Harmony module

April 30, 2021 status: Five spaceships are attached to the space station including two SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicles, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft, and Russia’s 77 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. The Crew-1 Resilience spaceship undocked May 1, 2021

Among their many accomplishments the Crew-1 astronauts also successfully completed the first port relocation of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft from the forward-facing port to the space-facing port on the Harmony module on the ISS in a flawless maneuver carried out April 5, to ready the orbiting outpost for a busy month of arrivals and departures.

The move allowed for the forward-facing port to receive four Crew-2 astronauts upon their arrival to the station April 24.

Later this year, SpaceX’s CRS-22 Commercial Resupply Services mission is scheduled to dock at the newly vacant zenith port as soon as June, bringing with it the first pair of new solar arrays.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission began with lift off on a new Falcon 9 rocket at 7:27 p.m. EST Sunday Nov. 15 (0027 GMT Monday) from Launch Complex 39A on Florida’s Spaceport during an instantaneous launch time – bound for the ISS on a six month science mission.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the commercial SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft blasts off on NASA’s Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi onboard, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at 7:27 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

They leave behind the Expedition 65 crew of 7 astronauts and cosmonauts from Crew-2 and Soyuz MS-18

The Crew-2 mission that arrived last week on April 23 is the second of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Streak Shot to Orbit: NASA SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon hurled to orbit after liftoff at 5:49 a.m. EDT Friday, April 23, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to the International Space Station – in the 6.5 minute long duration exposure single image streak shot- concluding with ‘jelly fish’ spawned by rocket exhaust. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Upon arrival the Crew-2 astronaut team of Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet joined the then current 7 ISS residents including 4 from Crew-1 namely Shannon WalkerMichael Hopkins, and Victor Glover as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and 3 from the recently arrived Soyuz MS-18 launch namely Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, as well as Mark Vande Hei of NASA.

 

Crew-2 will remain aboard until fall 2021 and overlap with SpaceX Crew-3 launching in October 2021 – read our earlier Crew-2 and Crew-3 stories.

Watch my live Crew-2 post launch interview on The Donlan Report on News Nation Cable News about the significance of the NASA SpaceX Crew 2 launch to ISS launch, Commercial  Space, Mars rover/helicopter, the future of space travel and Elon Musk’s plan to build a city on Mars.

Watch my live interview on ‘Stay Curious’ show about NASA SpaceX Crew 2 mission and NASA Ingenuity Helicopter 1st flight – on April 29 at the American Space Museum Titusville, FL

Ken was onsite at KSC for the Crew-2 mission launch on April 23.

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about ISS, Artemis and NASA missions, SpaceX, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.

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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Please consider supporting Ken’s work by donating at Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

May 1, 2021 status ” 4 spaceships are attached to the space station including one SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicles, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft, and Russia’s 77 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. The Crew-1 Resilience spaceship undocked May 1, 2021

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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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