Splashdown

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.

SpaceX

NASA

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.

SpaceX

Victor Glover

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.

SpaceX

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

NASA

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

SpaceX

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.

NASA

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

NASA

Victor Glover ...

NASA

Michael Hopkins ...

NASA

and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

NASA

SpaceX

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.

NASA/Tony Gray and Kenny Allen