NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) all landed safely in the Atlantic ocean at 7.57am BST. As SpaceX’s Crew Dragon touched down, a round of applause broke out in NASA’s ground control.
The mission marked a major landmark for SpaceX as it was the first time its Crew Dragon returned humans from the ISS.
As the Crew Dragon, named Resilience, approached the ocean, all the parachutes opened as planned, slowing the craft down to below 16 kilometres per hour.
Ground control said they “continue to hear good news after good news” as the mission went as smoothly as possible.
They added: “It really could have not been a more flawless journey home for Resilience.”
The astronauts were then forced to remain the capsule for around 30 minutes as rescue ships inspected the Crew Dragon.
As soon as the astronauts were out, they were whisked away to have medical check-ups – which is standard procedure for any returning space travellers.
However, ground control hear the “amazing news” from inside the cabin that all participants were “feeling well” even before they had left Resilience.
SpaceX said on its Twitter page: “Splashdown of Dragon confirmed – welcome back to Earth.”
NASA said on its website: “Astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) splashed down safely in the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, at 2:56 a.m. EDT after 168 days in space.
“The return marks the end of the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station of the Crew Dragon spacecraft developed in partnership between NASA and SpaceX as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.”