NASAs SpaceX Crew 2 Splashes Down After Carrying Out Longest Ever US Spaceflight

This is the moment NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 splashes down off the coast of Florida after carrying out the longest ever spaceflight by a US-crewed spacecraft.

The SpaceX Crew-2 mission astronauts landed in the sea near Pensacola in Florida on 8th November.

NASA said the crew landed in the Gulf of Mexico “aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft, achieving their longest crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, left, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Aki Hoshide, right, are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola in Florida in the United States on the 8th of November 2021. (NASA, Aubrey Gemignani/Newsflash)

NASA said the mission was the longest spaceflight by a US-crewed spacecraft at 199 days in orbit, beating the previous record of 168 days by the SpaceX Crew-1 operation earlier in 2021.

The SpaceX Crew-2 mission was carried out by NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said that they are “happy to have Shane, Megan, Aki, and Thomas safely back on Earth after another successful, record-setting long-duration mission to the International Space Station”.

NASAs SpaceX entered the earth’s atmosphere on the 8th of November 2021. (NASA/Newsflash)

He added: “Congratulations to the teams at NASA and SpaceX who worked so hard to ensure their successful splashdown.”

Nelson said the Commercial Crew Program has proven effective at providing safe transport to the ISS for experts to carry out important science work and maintenance.

The team was launched from the Falcon 9 launch vehicle at the Kennedy Space Center on 23rd April.

NASAs SpaceX opens the parachutes as it entered the earth’s atmosphere on the 8th of November 2021. (NASA/Newsflash)

NASA said the crew “docked to the Harmony module’s forward port” on the ISS, less than 24 hours after launch.

The team travelled 84,653,119 statute miles during their mission, stayed 198 days on the ISS, and completed 3,194 orbits around Earth.

NASA said the “Crew-2 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities, scientific investigations, and technology demonstrations”, adding that they “conducted four spacewalks”.

NASAs SpaceX splashdown in a landing zone off the coast of Pensacola in Florida in the United States on the 8th of November 2021. (NASA/Newsflash)

NASA added: “They studied how gaseous flames behave in microgravity, grew hatch green chiles in the station’s Plant Habitat Facility, installed free-flying robotic assistants, and even donned virtual reality goggles to test new methods of exercising in space, among many other scientific activities.”

The splashdown happened days ahead of the launch of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission, scheduled for 10th November and expected to last six months.

NASA added that “the next NASA and SpaceX crew rotation mission is Crew-4, currently targeted for launch in April 2022. Crew-3 astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth shortly after welcoming their Crew-4 colleagues to the orbiting laboratory”.

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