NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, left, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, right are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, Sunday, May 2, 2021. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission was the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA was delighted to report that the Space X Crew Dragon splashed down safely at 2:56 a.m. EDT off the coast of Panama City, Florida very early in the morning May 2, 2021. It was NASA’s first nocturnal splashdown since Apollo 8 in 1968. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, carrying NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted splashdown. Crews aboard SpaceX recovery vessels successfully recovered the spacecraft and astronauts.

“We welcome you back to planet Earth, and thanks for flying SpaceX,” Michael Heiman, a SpaceX mission control official, told the astronauts. “For those of you enrolled in our frequent flier program, you have earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”

“Resilience is back on planet Earth and we’ll take those miles,” replied Mike Hopkins, the NASA astronaut commanding the mission, “Are they transferable?”

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission launched Nov. 15, 2020, on a Falcon 9 rocket from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts named the spacecraft Resilience, in honor of their families, colleagues, and fellow citizens and highlighting the dedication displayed by the teams involved with the mission and demonstrating that there is no limit to what humans can achieve when they work together. Crew Dragon Resilience docked to the Harmony module’s forward port of the space station Nov. 16, nearly 27 hours after liftoff.

Overall, Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi traveled 71,242,199 statute miles during their 168 days in orbit (with 167 days aboard the space station), completing 2,688 orbits around Earth. With splashdown, the crew also broke the American crewed spacecraft mission duration record of 84 days, 1 hour, 15 minutes, set by the final Skylab crew in February 1974.

The longest any Terran human has stayed in space during one trip is 437 days 18 hours , a record set by Russian cosmonaut Valery Vladimirovich Polyakov in 1995.

Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi flew to Houston after they were fished out of the ocean. Resilence will be returned to “SpaceX’s Dragon Lair in Florida for inspection and processing. There, teams will examine the spacecraft’s data and performance throughout the flight. The next NASA and SpaceX crewed mission is Crew-3, currently targeted for launch no earlier than Oct. 23. Crew-2 astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth Oct. 31, about a week after welcoming their Crew-3 colleagues to the orbiting outpost.” SpaceX permits us to apply “reduce, reuse, recycle” to spacecraft, which lowers the price of space travel.

SpaceX hopes to eventually make space travel cheap enough for everyone. However, as Anne Passovoy said in her song, Harbors, “the children born tomorrow may already be too old.”

“Throughout their mission, the Crew-1 astronauts contributed to scientific investigations and technology demonstrations, in addition to spacewalks and public engagement events, while aboard the orbiting laboratory. From studying protein crystal development to advance new drug discoveries, to demonstrating robotic assistant technologies, their work advances exploration of the universe while bringing benefits back to Earth,” said NASA.

Resilence launched November 15, 2020, under the command of Col. Michael Hopkins,USAF. The crew included American astronauts physicist Dr. Shannon Walker and Navy Cmdr. Victor Glover, as well as Japanese engineer Dr. Soichi Noguchi.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.