Capsule soon to be reused in the very first private space flight
⭐️ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW⭐️
- Four astronauts have just landed on Earth after about six months at the ISS.
- They returned aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
- It is the first space flight carried out by a private company which was not a test.
- It is also the first nighttime splashdown since 1968.
- Read on to find out what’s next for SpaceX. ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️
After six long months on the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX has safely returned four astronauts to Earth on a historic dive into the Atlantic Ocean.
On May 2, the SpaceX Dragon capsule parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City, Florida, just before 3 a.m.
The flight back to Earth from the ISS lasted only 6.5 hours and marks the first dark dive since the Apollo 8 moonshot in 1968.
It is also the first time that astronauts have completed an untested mission in a privately owned spacecraft, marking what could be the start of a new era for space travel.
Collect the astronauts from the ocean
NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have been at the ISS since November.
From left to right, astronauts Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Soichi Noguchi returned to Earth on May 2 after six months in space. (Image credit: NASA / The Associated Press)
They were supposed to return to Earth on April 28, but had to be postponed due to bad weather.
Instead, they decided to leave the ISS late on Saturday night and started heading towards Earth’s atmosphere.
Infrared cameras tracked the astronauts’ capsule as it returned to the atmosphere, looking like a bright star crossing the night sky.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule is recovered in the Gulf of Mexico near the Florida Panhandle early Sunday, May 2. (Image credit: NASA TV / The Associated Press)
Within half an hour of landing in the Gulf of Mexico, the capsule – resembling a giant roasted marshmallow after being charred upon returning to Earth’s atmosphere – was hoisted onto a salvage vessel.
Hopkins was the first astronaut to come out of the capsule and did a little dance to celebrate the safe return.
Soon after, the astronauts received medical checks from a support team and jumped onto a helicopter for the short flight to shore.
Why this is a big deal
The safe return of Crew Dragon Resilience marks the first untested space flight completed in a commercial aircraft.
NASA astronaut Victor Glover is helped out of the Dragon capsule after splashing in the Gulf of Mexico. (Image credit: NASA TV / The Associated Press)
In other words, this is the first time that astronauts have completed an untested mission in a spacecraft owned by a private company rather than a government.
This is important because it gives space agencies more possibilities to bring their astronauts into space.
Over the past 10 years, the governments of Canada and the United States have been forced to pay a lot of money to use Russian spacecraft, after their own shuttles were withdrawn.
The success of this mission may soon allow space tourists – or people who are not trained as professional astronauts – to visit space as well.
The Resilience Pod will return to Cape Canaveral, Florida for repairs so that it can be used on the very first space flight for ordinary people in September.
A tech billionaire bought the entire three-day flight, which will orbit 120 kilometers above the space station.
Jared Isaacman will fly with a pair of contest winners and a medical assistant from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, which was his designated charity for the mission.
As for NASA, it plans to send more astronauts into space via SpaceX in October.
With files from The Associated Press