Four crew members of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Crew-1 capsule, developed by NASA and Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturing company SpaceX, returned to Earth after a 167-day-long mission in the International Space Station.
According to NASA, the team of three American and one Japanese astronaut, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, returned to Earth and parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico in the early hours of May 2, 2021. The team returned on the same spacecraft Resilience which they launched from NASA Kennedy Space Center, the US, on November 15, 2020.
The astronauts have spent 167 days while on a mission in the International Space Station, breaking a new record as the longest mission for astronauts launching from the United States. During the long-duration mission, the team contributed to a bunch of scientific investigations and technology demonstrations, completed several spacewalks while aboard the orbiting laboratory, and demonstrated new robotic assistant technologies as well as conducted a series of tests of a new method for producing semiconductor crystals.
The astronauts also grew crops in the Advanced Plant Habitat and Veggie plant growth facilities and contributed hundreds of pictures of Earth as a part of the Crew Earth Observation investigation, which will be later used to track and explore natural disasters and changes of the planet.
The return of the Crew-1 also became the first night splashdown of the US-crewed spacecraft since Apollo 8’s predawn return in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 27, 1968. Previously, the record of the longest human space flight was set by the NASA Skylab station crew in 1974, when a group of 4 crew members completed an 84-day mission during which they conducted three spacewalks, as well as a busy research program, which included biomedical investigations on the effects of a long-duration space flight on the human body, Earth observations using the Earth Resources Experiment Package (EREP), and various solar observations.
NASA counted that the Crew-1 team traveled a total of 71,242,199 statute miles during their 168 days in orbit while completing 2,688 orbits around Earth.