It was in the middle of the night, lit only by the moon, that the Crew Dragon capsule plunged into the ocean.
On board, 4 astronauts who have just spent 168 days in the International Space Station.
The SpaceX company ship landed Saturday night off Florida after a six-and-a-half-hour flight.
The crew, composed of three Americans and a Japanese, and the capsule were recovered by boat.
This is the first regular mission to be brought back to Earth by SpaceX, which has established itself as an essential partner of NASA.
After 167 days in space, the longest duration mission for a U.S. spacecraft since the final Skylab mission in 1974, Dragon and the Crew-1 astronauts, @Astro_illini, @AstroVicGlover, Shannon Walker and @Astro_Soichi, returned to Earth this morning! pic.twitter.com/vuWPPrreyh— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 2, 2021
“ The SpaceX and NASA teams have brought human spaceflight back to the United States, and I think it’s a remarkable achievement, the opportunity of a lifetime for many of us and something we can be proud, ” emphasizes Hans Koenigsmann, Flight Reliability Advisor, SpaceX.
How we feel knowing that the astronauts of NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission have safely returned to our home planet. 💙 pic.twitter.com/CANUXMar9B— NASA's Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) May 2, 2021
The return to Earth of the astronauts follows the arrival on board the ISS last week of a second regular mission also transported by the space company of Elon Musk, a crew including the French Thomas Pesquet.
After medical checks, the four astronauts will join Houston and their family they say they are eager to find.