ORLANDO, Fla. – After spending three days orbiting the Earth, SpaceX’s Inspiration4 crew returned to Earth after a splashdown off Florida’s coast Saturday evening.
The all-civilian crew returned to Earth in the Atlantic Ocean at 7:06 p.m., making it the first Dragon crew to splashdown in the Atlantic.
The spacecraft parachuted into the ocean near where their flight began earlier this week. The four were the first space travelers to end their flight in the Atlantic since Apollo 9 in 1969, according to the Associated Press.
SpaceX got Inspiration4 into a 363-mile orbit following Wednesday night’s launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, 100 miles higher than the International Space Station. During the crew’s first day in space, SpaceX said they traveled around the Earth more than 15 times and completed their first round of scientific research.
The day before Inspiration4′s return, the U.S. Coast Guard tweeted it is establishing a hazard and warning area.
#USCG will establish a hazard and warning area for the return of #Inspiration4 and urge all mariners to avoid the established area.— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 18, 2021
If you find yourself near a space operation in the maritime domain, “STAY BACK” and stay safe.
Do not approach capsule splashdown sites.#StayBack pic.twitter.com/VxZXYISqSt
Inspiration4 marked the launch of the first all-civilian crew and a first in human spaceflight Wednesday night when it lifted off from Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX was charted by billionaire businessman Jared Isaacman to launch the Inspiration4 mission on a Falcon 9 rocket sending a special-edition Crew Dragon spacecraft on a three-day orbit of Earth. Three other civilians joining Isaacman just learned of their spaceflight less than a year ago, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital physician Hayley Arcenauex, college geology professor Dr. Sian Proctor and aerospace engineer Chris Sembroski.
While the spacecraft is fully automated, the crew did have to train for about seven months in case they had to manually take over operating the Dragon spacecraft.