SpaceX Dragon capsule with Crew-2 astronauts splashes down in Gulf of Mexico

CAPE CANAVERAL (Fla.) -- SpaceX's Crew-2 astronauts returned home late Monday night (Nov. 8) after six months in space. They swam down to the Florida coast to complete the second long-duration mission of the private company.
SpaceX's Crew-2 mission to NASA crashed safely in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Pensacola (Florida), at 10:33 PM EST (0333 GMT on November 9). A recovery ship quickly recovered the Crew Dragon capsule of the spaceflyers from the water. The six-month journey to the International Space Station (ISS) was completed with their return.

After the capsule had safely landed in the Gulf of Mexico, mission control officials radioed the crew, "Endeavour, on the behalf of SpaceX welcome back to planet Earth,"

SpaceX's Crew-2 mission splashdown: Live updates

Video: SpaceX's Crew-2 takes off in the Gulf of Mexico

Image 1: Crew-2 Dragon Endeavour, 5 SpaceX, descends below its main parachutes during splashdown on November 8, 2021. After a successful splashdown off Pensacola (Florida) on Nov. 8, 2021, SpaceX's Crew-2 Dragon Endeavour was successfully recovered by the recovery vessel GO Navigator. (Image credit NASA TV. Image 3 of 5. Moments earlier, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour sprinted through the night sky above the Gulf of Mexico as the Crew-2 mission ended. After splashdown on November 8, 2021, SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour was reenter Earth's atmosphere in Image 4 of 5. A recovery boat approached SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour off Pensacola (Florida). (Image credit NASA TV. Image 5 of 5 After splashdown on November 8, 2021, SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour was spotted in the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola. NASA TV image credit

SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour flew its second spaceflight and safely transported four astronauts, Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough of NASA, Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency (ESA), Akihiko Hishide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to the ISS.

SpaceX's second long-duration launch mission was completed on behalf NASA. Crew-2 astronauts were launched to the ISS in April. They spent less than 200 days living and working in space.

The astronauts were able to complete several spacewalks while in orbit. These included the installation of two solar arrays and hundreds of research investigations.

Kimbrough was the Crew-2 commander, and McArthur was the mission's pilot. Pesquet and Hoshide each had a turn at commanding the ISS during their time in space. Then, Anton Shkaplerov, a Russian cosmonaut took over.

Related: Crew-2 astronauts are not allowed to use SpaceX's Dragon toilet in space

As they complete a six-month mission, the four astronauts from SpaceX and NASA's Crew-2 mission take a photo with their launch and entry suits. From left to right: Akihiko Hashide from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur and Thomas Pesquet from European Space Agency. (Image credit: ESA/Thomas Pesquet via Twitter

Endeavour's departure will leave only three astronauts aboard the orbital outpost. They are Mark Vande Hei, NASA, and cosmonauts Shkaplerov (Roscosmos). A series of delays has prevented Crew-2's replacements, NASA's Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Baron, from launching.

Crew-3 was originally scheduled to launch on October 31st. However, bad weather and a minor medical issue caused NASA to send Crew-2 home first, before Crew-3 took off.

Crew-3's launch is scheduled for Wednesday, November 3, at 9:03 PM EST (0203 GMT on Wednesday, Nov. 11). If all goes according to plan.

Endeavour departed the space station Monday afternoon around 2:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT). Endeavour flew around the ISS in a special maneuver and took photos of its exterior.

These photos will allow teams to inspect areas of the station not normally visible by the orbital outpost's cameras. The maneuver will also test Dragon's navigation sensors.

After a while, the craft was in position to land. Endeavour completed its deorbit burn at 9:57 PM EST (0257 GMT) in order to return to the atmosphere for landing.

View of SpaceX's Crew-2 Dragon spacecraft Endeavour, with the Earth in background. Endeavour flew around the International Space Station after undocking on November 8, 2021. NASA TV image credit

Endeavour splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico under parachutes and the cover of darkness. Because of the favorable weather forecasts, NASA and SpaceX chose Monday night for their targeted landing date. It was calm seas with light winds.

The capsule touched down at 10:33 p.m. ET (0333 GMT on Tuesday Nov. 9), and SpaceX's fast boats arrived on the scene within minutes. Endeavour was lifted out of the water by GO Navigator, one of SpaceX's Dragon recovery vessels.

The vehicle was then checked by the teams to ensure that it was safe for crew members to get out.

After a medical exam, Kimbrough and McArthur will return to Houston. Pesquet will travel back to Europe. The agency will now focus on its next task, which is to launch Crew-3 once the astronauts have returned safely to Earth.

The flight will take off from Kennedy Space Center at 9:03 PM EST (0203 GMT on Nov. 11). Forecasters currently predict a 80% chance for favorable weather conditions.