Watch the SpaceX-NASA Crew-1 astronauts' incredible journey back to Earth

On Sunday, May 2, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission quietly made history.


Crew-1 marked NASA’s first operational, long-duration commercial crew mission. The crew traveled in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, carried by a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.

The nearly six-month stint on the ISS broke the record for the longest crewed spacecraft mission, previously set by Skylab in 1974.

Shane Kimbrough

Late on May 1, the Crew-1 Dragon separated from the ISS to begin its return to Earth.

Crew-1’s departure was originally scheduled for a few days prior, but rough weather conditions back on Earth delayed its return.

Around 2 a.m. Eastern, the Dragon initiated deorbit burn, firing its engines to slow the capsule enough for it to begin its descent from orbit.


With the deorbit burn finished, the astronauts aboard Crew-1 descended toward the Gulf of Mexico.


Crew-1’s early morning splashdown was as extraordinary as the mission itself.


Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

The last pre-dawn splashdown of a crewed U.S. spacecraft was in 1968, with the return of Apollo 8.

After 168 days in space, NASA celebrated along with the Crew-1 astronauts, who soon departed for Johnson Space Center in Houston.


Now back on solid ground, Crew-1 comprised NASA astronauts Shannon Walker ...


Victor Glover ...


Michael Hopkins ...


and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.


The end of Crew-1 is only the beginning for NASA’s commercial crew missions. Crew-2 docked with the ISS last week to continue the work started by Crew-1.

Read more stories on NASA here.

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