SpaceX returned the astronauts of NASA’s Crew-3 mission to Earth early on Friday morning, marking the sixth human spaceflight the company completed to date.
Crew Dragon capsule Endurance splashed down off the coast of Tampa in the Gulf of Mexico.
“On behalf of the entire SpaceX team, welcome home,” Sarah Gillis, SpaceX lead operations engineer, said on a webcast after splashdown. “It’s been an absolute honor to support you on your mission, Endurance crew, and thanks for flying SpaceX.”
“That was a great ride,” Crew-3 commander Raja Chari said.
Crew-3 spent 177 days in space, with nearly all of that time spent on board the International Space Station. The SpaceX-launched mission carried a team of four: NASA astronauts Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer.
Elon Musk’s company has completed six human spaceflights and last month launched its seventh – the Crew-4 mission. The four astronauts of that mission are currently onboard the ISS for a planned six-month stay. That launch brings the total number of astronauts SpaceX has sent to orbit to 26, across five government missions and two private.