Four NASA SpaceX Crew-2 Astronauts Safely Splash Down in Gulf of Mexico after ISS Mission

SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft with four Crew-2 mission astronauts on board descends on four main parachutes to a safe splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico at night on Nov. 8, 2021 after spending six months aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL –  After some 200 days in orbit NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 team of four multinational astronauts from the US, France and Japan safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida Monday nearby Pensacola aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft Monday evening, Nov. 8, at about 10:33 p.m. ET (0333 GMT on Nov. 9), at last departing their home for the past six months – the International Space Station (ISS) – after several delays related to weather as well as juggling the competing priorities with the new Crew-3 mission launch from Florida’s other coast namely the Space Coast.

Crew-2 completed NASA’s second long-duration commercial crew mission and second SpaceX crew rotation mission to the orbiting research outpost.

The mission set a record for the longest spaceflight by a U.S. crewed spacecraft. The international crew of four spent over 199 days in orbit, surpassing the old record of 168 days set by NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission earlier this year – by more than a month.

“Endeavour, on behalf of SpaceX, welcome back to planet Earth,” Mission Control radioed to the crew after the Dragon capsule safely splashed in the Gulf of Mexico.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is lifted onto the GO Navigator recovery ship after it landed with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA

The astronaut quartert of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted splashdown at 10:33 p.m. EST off the coast of Pensacola, Florida – just over eight hours after undocking from the space station at about 2:05 p.m. ET.

Everything appeared to go very well with the exception a slow inflation of one of the four main parachutes.

NASA long range, high resolution infrared cameras captured absolutely dramatic and stunning views of Crew Dragon descent, parachute unfurling and splashdown into very calm, glass-like flat seas in the Gulf.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft with four Crew-2 mission astronauts on board floats with recovers ships after safe splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico at night on Nov. 8, 2021 after spending six months aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The crew was in great spirits and appeared to be in high health after half a year experiencing weightlessness in low Earth orbit.

The entire sequence from undocking to splashdown was broadcast live on NASA TV

Crews aboard SpaceX recovery vessels successfully quickly recovered the spacecraft and astronauts and hoisted it on board the SpaceX GO Navigator vessel in record time of about 40 minutes.

All four astronauts were in high spirits and high health and quickly exited Crew Dragon Endeavour assisted by SpaceX recovery team members.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, left, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Aki Hoshide, right, are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

“We’re happy to have Shane, Megan, Aki, and Thomas safely back on Earth after another successful, record-setting long-duration mission to the International Space Station,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson, in a statement.

“Congratulations to the teams at NASA and SpaceX who worked so hard to ensure their successful splashdown. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program continues to demonstrate safe, reliable transportation to conduct important science and maintenance on the space station.”

SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft with four Crew-2 mission astronauts on board floats with recovery ships after safe splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico at night on Nov. 8, 2021 after spending six months aboard the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Megan tweeted about departing on Day 200 in space with photos of Guin-Guin

Skywatchers captured glorious photos of the Crew Dragon creating a fireball streak during the final moments of the descent and splashdown.

After returning to shore, the astronauts will fly back to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Pesquet will fly back to Europe

 

The Crew-2 mission launched April 23 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Crew Dragon Endeavour docked to the Harmony module’s forward port of the space station April 24, nearly 24-hours after liftoff.

A recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s recycled Crew Dragon spacecraft launched at 5:49 a.m. EDT on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide onboard, Friday, April 23, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

 

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet traveled 84,653,119 statute miles during their mission, stayed 198 days aboard the space station, and completed 3,194 orbits around Earth.

 

Here are more NASA photos from the Crew-2 splashdown:

 

NASA SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts pose with their spacesuits onboard the International Space Station as they prepare to return home to Earth with departure NET Nov. 7, 2021 ahead of Crew-3 launch: Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), left, and Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency). Credit: ESA/NASA

More from NASA:

Throughout their mission, the Crew-2 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities, scientific investigations, and technology demonstrations. In addition, they conducted four spacewalks and multiple public engagement events while aboard the orbiting laboratory. They studied how gaseous flames behave in microgravity, grew hatch green chiles in the station’s Plant Habitat Facility, installed free-flying robotic assistants, and even donned virtual reality goggles to test new methods of exercising in space, among many other scientific activities. The astronauts took hundreds of pictures of Earth as part of the Crew Earth Observation investigation, one of the longest-running investigations aboard the space station, which contributes to tracking of natural disasters and changes to our home planet.

Kimbrough, Hoshide, and Pesquet also completed four spacewalks to install, deploy, or otherwise prepare for installation of ISS Roll-out Solar Arrays. This brought the total number of spacewalks for Kimbrough, Hoshide, and Pesquet to nine, four, and six, respectively. The fourth spacewalk, conducted by Hoshide and Pesquet on Sept. 12, was the first in the history of the space station that did not include an American or Russian.

NASA SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), left, Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), and Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough of NASA participate in the Space Olympics onboard the International Space Station. Credits: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet

On July 21, all four Crew-2 astronauts boarded Endeavour for a port relocation maneuver, moving their spacecraft from the forward-facing port to the space-facing port on the station’s Harmony module.

The Crew-2 flight is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which has worked with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil to the space station. The splashdown of Crew-2 comes just before the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission, currently scheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, Nov. 10, on another long duration mission of approximately six months.

Endeavour will return for inspection and processing to SpaceX’s Dragon Lair in Florida, where teams will examine the spacecraft’s data and performance throughout the flight.

Liftoff of multinational German and American astronauts flying on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission has been delayed by poor offshore weather to Nov. 10, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The quartet participated in a media event after arriving at KSC on Oct. 26, 2021. From left is ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Mission Specialist Matthias Maurer of Germany, NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, pilot, Spacecraft Commander Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, mission specialist. Halloween liftoff set for Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Crew-3 is currently targeting launch NET Nov. 10 at 9:03 PM ET from the Kennedy Space Center on the next crew rotation mission.

Thereafter the next NASA and SpaceX crew rotation mission is Crew-4, currently targeted for launch in April 2022. Crew-3 astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth shortly after welcoming their Crew-4 colleagues to the orbiting laboratory.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket integrated with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is raised erect at Launch Complex 39A ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. Launch targeting no earlier than Nov. 10, 2021 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken’s comments about the Crew-2 & Crew-3 missions were featured on local CBS, NBC and Fox TV News outlets in Orlando:

Nov. 8 & 9 broadcasts on WESH 2 NBC and Fox 35:

https://www.wesh.com/article/crew-2-splashdown-monday/38192367

https://www.fox35orlando.com/video/999350

Nov. 5 broadcast on WKMG CBS 6 Orlando TV News:

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2021/11/05/spacex-nasa-weigh-astronaut-rotation-schedule-as-bad-weather-continues-launch-delay/

Ken’s photos of the static fire test for upcoming Crew-3 were featured on WKMG CBS 6 Orlando TV News

CBS 6 Orlando WKMG features static fire test photos for NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission taken at 1 a.m. Oct. 28, 2021, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission launch targeting Nov 10, 2021 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken is onsite at KSC for the Crew-3 mission launch campaign

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, Lucy Asteroid mission, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, 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 & 3, ISS, 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 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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