After six months orbiting the Earth NASA astronauts, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi returned to Earth at the weekend.
The spacefarers returned to Earth in the same way they arrived at the International Space Station, with the SpaceX Crew Dragon which the crew named Resilience.
This trip has pushed the crew into the record books on two counts. For one, this is the longest duration of a crewed American spacecraft to date and this splashdown is the first night splashdown by a US crewed spacecraft since the Apollo 8’s splashdown in 1968.
The total distance travelled by Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Noguchi was 71 242 199 million miles over 168 days.
The quartet of spacefarers completed a number of activities while aboard the International Space Station including growing crops in the Advanced Plant Habitat and Veggie plant growth facilities.
The crew also completed five space walks outside of the ISS.
By far the most impressive feat, however, was the relocation of Crew-1 in preparation for the arrival of Crew-2.
“On 5th April, all four Crew-1 astronauts boarded Resilience for a port relocation maneuver, moving their spacecraft from the forward-facing port to the space-facing port on the Harmony module. The move allowed for the forward-facing port to receive four Crew-2 astronauts upon their arrival to the station 24th April. Later this year, SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission is scheduled to dock at the newly vacant zenith port, bringing with it the first pair of new solar arrays,” writes NASA.
The Crew-1 is now headed back to SpaceX’s Dragon Lair for inspection and processing. The next crew mission is expected to launch on 23rd October and Crew-2 is expected to return on 31st October.
You can watch the full event from re-entry to splashdown below.