The SpaceX Crew-1 mission has returned safely to Earth and shattered a record in the process. NASA has confirmed that Crew-1 broke a record for the longest mission duration for a crewed American spacecraft, with the Crew Dragon capsule Resilience lasting 168 days in orbit before splashdown off the coast of Florida at 2:56AM Eastern. The previous best was set back in February 1974, when the last Skylab crew spent slightly more than 84 days on their mission.
The astronauts spent more than five months in space for the Crew-1 mission, the longest-ever duration for a crew launched in an American-built spacecraft.
SpaceX mission control welcomed the astronauts with some humor after they touched down: “We welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer program, you’ve earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”
“SpaceX, ‘Resilience’ is back on planet Earth, and we’ll take those miles – are they transferable?” NASA astronaut and spacecraft commander Mike Hopkins joked moments after landing.
NASA astronauts Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi reached the space station via the Dragon capsule after launching in the capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket last November.
The landing was the first crewed and U.S.-made spacecraft splashdown amid darkness since 1968, and the second time a space capsule has ever landed in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also only the second time NASA and SpaceX have brought astronauts back to Earth on a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
SpaceX, founded and led by CEO Elon Musk, has now sent 10 astronauts to space in under a year.
SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spacecraft and fine-tuned its Falcon 9 rocket under NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which provided the company with $3.1 billion to develop the system and launch six operational missions.