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Successful Landing for SpaceX Dragon

May 11, 2021

In the early hours of May 2, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft landed in the Gulf of Mexico, returning four astronauts to Earth after six months in space.

“The return mission appeared to go flawlessly from start to finish, with the autonomous SpaceX Dragon spacecraft firing its engines on schedule to slow it down enough to pull it out of orbit and into the atmosphere,” reports Christian Davenport of The Washington Post.

The astronauts, NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), had been on the International Space Station (ISS), where they had conducted a multitude of experiments with the other ISS residents.

The ISS recently underwent a full crew transition, with all seven prior crew members being replaces by new astronauts. The ISS is now staffed by one Japanese, one French, two Russian, and three American astronauts.

It has been a stressful time for spaceflight as it was impacted, along with the rest of the world, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Before their launch in November, the Crew-1 team named their Crew Dragon spacecraft ‘Resilience’ in honor of the NASA and SpaceX teams that worked through a pandemic to get their mission off the ground as well as the global public, which grappled with Covid-19 as well as a widespread reckoning over racial injustices in the months prior to the Crew-1 launch,” reports Jackie Wattles for CNN.

For NASA’s Victor Glover, his first flight to space was also history-making as he became the first black person to hold a long-duration crew assignment on the International Space Station.

The mission and it’s landing were unique in many ways, including being the first night-time landing of a U.S. spacecraft since 1968. On top of that, the four astronauts on board set a record for the most days in space by a crew launched on a U.S. spacecraft. At 168 days, the record nearly doubles the prior 84-day record set in 1974.

The landing also came on the cusp of National Space Day, May 7. The holiday had been celebrated on the first Friday of every May since 1997. In 2001, the holiday was expanded to International Space Day, as popularity for the event grew world-wide.

Space exploration has been booming of late, with SpaceX continuing to lead the way with Starlink launches, Starship testing, approval for moon launches, and talk of travel to Mars in the relatively near future.

Boeing is also looking toward space as they continue testing of their Starliner Spacecraft, reports The Washington Post.

“[Boeing] has recently said that the spacecraft will be ready to fly as early as this month but that scheduling on the space station and the availability of the rocket that propels it from Earth will mean its flight can’t take place until August or September,” reports Davenport.

Capitol Tech celebrates all the recent accomplishments in the field of space and astronautical engineering, including the recent launch of the university’s Cactus-1 (Coordinated Applied Capitol Technology University Satellite 1) CubeSat. We can’t wait to see what our students do next!

Capitol Tech offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in aviation and unmanned systems, including a BS in Astronautical Engineering and master’s and PhD’s in Aviation. Many courses are available both on campus and online. For more information, contact admissions@captechu.edu.