CAPE CAÑAVERAL, FLORIDA – A SpaceX spacecraft returned to Earth from the International Space Station with four astronauts aboard on Sunday, in the first night landing of a manned spacecraft in the United States since the Apollo 8 lunar mission. The Dragon capsule deployed his parachutes to drop into the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, Florida, just before three in the morning, and end the second manned flight of Elon Musk’s company. It was an express return trip, barely 6 and a half hours. NASA congratulated the crew on their arrival on its Twitter account, welcoming them, stating that they did “In the most appropriate way, their mission, which certified the return of the astronauts from the US”, and that “It ended. with an equally historic night landing at 2:56 am ET (06:56 UT). ” Let’s give NASA’s @SpaceX
Glover, like his NASA colleagues Mike Hopkin and Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, were due to return to Earth last Wednesday. But offshore winds forced Space X to forego two possible daytime landing attempts. Those responsible for the project opted for an unusual landing in the dark to take advantage of the quiet time. SpaceX had rehearsed a nightly return just in case and even recovered its last cargo capsule at night in the Gulf of Mexico. Infrared cameras followed the capsule as it reentered the atmosphere, as it streaked across the night sky like a bright star. All four parachutes deployed just before landing, also visible in infrared images. The Apollo 8 mission, NASA’s first manned flight to the moon, ended with a splashdown in the Pacific, near Hawaii, before dawn on December 27, 1968. Eight years later, a Soviet capsule with two cosmonauts It fell at night in a partially frozen lake in Kazakhstan after being blown off course by a blizzard. Despite the hour, the Coast Guard made a huge effort to maintain the 18-kilometer (11-mile) exclusion zone around the capsule. SpaceX’s first manned return brought together many civilian vessels, posing a security risk. Once aboard the SpaceX recovery ship, the astronauts planned to make the short trip to shore by helicopter, then fly to Houston to reunite with their families. Its capsule, the Resilience, will return to Cape Canaveral to be refitted for SpaceX’s first manned private mission in September. The space station’s docking mechanism will be replaced by a new dome-shaped window.