PANAMA CITY, Fla. – As recovery boats waited for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft carrying four astronauts back to Earth, one animal had a front-row seat for the splashdown.
The Dragon spacecraft called Resilience blasted through Earth’s atmosphere after 2 a.m. ET then, aided by a parachute system the spacecraft, slowed from 350 mph to 15 mph to gently drop into the Gulf of Mexico.
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One dolphin was hanging out with the recovery team as they waited for the spacecraft to arrive.
The splashdown made waves off the state’s coast, which the dolphin did not stick around for.
The astronaut homecoming marked the first time in more than 50 years a capsule was retrieved at sea in the darkness of night, according to NASA. The last time this happened was when Apollo 8 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 27, 1968, with NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.
Twice delayed due to weather around the landing zone, the astronauts had a few more days on space station to spend with the seven other crew members, including the four Crew-2 astronauts who arrived last week also in a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.