A U.S. SpaceX ship carrying Japan’s Soichi Noguchi and three NASA astronauts returned to Earth on May 2 following the group’s six-month mission at the International Space Station.
The three NASA astronauts are Americans Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker.
The Crew Dragon capsule splashed down at 2:56 a.m. in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast, the first time a manned U.S. craft has reached Earth under darkness since the 1968 Apollo 8 mission.
It was launched in November from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the second manned flight to the ISS by the commercially built spacecraft.
The group’s initial plan to return in late April was pushed back due to unfavorable weather conditions.
While the four were on the ISS, another SpaceX ship ferried Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide, 52, and three other astronauts to the orbiting laboratory, putting two Japanese astronauts in space simultaneously for the first time since 2010.
Noguchi, a 56-year-old veteran astronaut, became the first person to fly on a NASA space shuttle, a Russian Soyuz craft and the Crew Dragon. He was also the first non-American astronaut to board the Crew Dragon. (Kyodo)