Crew-2's safe return home to Earth lit up New Orleans and Florida's night sky on Tuesday, Nov. 9, wowing viewers with a spectacular sky show.
At 10:33 p.m. ET (0333 GMT on November 9), the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Pensacola. It left a glowing trail of light during its re-entry, visible to the viewers below, in the last minutes of the 199 day mission.
SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon capsule crashes into the Gulf of Mexico in Landing Story
Image 1 of 3 SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour can be seen streaking across the night sky just before splashdown to bring four Crew-2 astronauts back to Earth. The splashdown took place in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida off Pensacola on November 8, 2021. (Image credit NASA/Aubrey Gemignani. Image 2 of Crew Dragon Endeavour by 3 SpaceX is seen streaking across the night sky just before splashdown to bring four Crew-2 astronauts back to Earth. The splashdown took place in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida off Pensacola on November 8, 2021. Image 3 of 3 SpaceX’s Crew-2 Dragon Endeavour with its crew of four astronauts splashed into the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola, Florida on Nov. 8, 2021. Image credit: NASA TV
Returned spacecraft travel at high speed and compress the atmosphere ahead, creating a meteorite effect that causes the atmosphere to glow. The glow can be visible from many miles away if the sky is clear.
"Holy crap, that was amazing!" Christopher of Mandeville in Louisiana, a skywatcher wrote the following tweet while sharing a photograph of the reentry.
New Orleans viewers were treated to a special reentry zone, as the astronauts splashed down in the Florida west. Spacecraft returning from space missions typically landed closer to Florida's eastern coast (Orlando region) and towards the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. As you can see, viewers from the region shared their excitement via Twitter.
That was amazing! Although I would have loved to taken the boat out to the lake, I couldn't bear to leave my house. If you don't know, @SpaceX Dragon is the name of my son. My mistake was to hit video and photo, but I did manage to get my son a short video that I will post after. @NWSNewOrleans pic.twitter.com/67agrc4mOPNovember 9, 2021 See more
Crew 2 renters the Earth’s atmosphere. Welcome home @astro_kimbrough pic.twitter.com/UsoY5uOJ3XNovember 9, 2021 See more
Excuse my excitement and poor language. I was overwhelmed pic.twitter.com/1MkjLbcON6November 9, 2021 See more
This is so cool! @SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor entering the atmosphere above the Gulf of Mexico visible from #Nola/SELA! pic.twitter.com/9KSf2eNURTNovember 9, 2021 See more
Tonight's #SpaceX return from Orange Beach Very cool to watch #sonicboom #orangebeach #alabama @spann pic.twitter.com/KOQcp6pGjuNovember 9, 2021 See more
Crew Dragon offers a completely different experience than the Soyuz or the shuttle, astronauts who returned to the station have reported. NASA astronaut Bob Behnken said that Crew Dragon sounds "like an animal" during his Demo-2 return on Aug. 2, 2020. He said, "The atmosphere makes noise. You can hear the rumble outside of the vehicle."
Crew Dragon's ability to land on water is another thing that sets it apart from other NASA astronauts since the Apollo Soyuz program in 1975. Since then, all Americans have returned to land on U.S. soil, or in the steppes, Kazakhstan using Soyuz spacecrafts (the main astronaut taxi for the last decade).
Crew Dragon reentry over Starbase as seen on @NASASpaceflight Starbase Live.https://t.co/YhZS6pd0Ec pic.twitter.com/KVUavfjQtJNovember 9, 2021 See more
Space. It's amazing, isn't it? #SpaceX pic.twitter.com/KoUWrnepLcNovember 9, 2021 See more
It is rare to see any spacecraft returning to the USA. This is despite the fact that SpaceX began returning astronauts to Florida in 2020 after a nine-year gap. Even veteran reporters were amazed by the sight of re-entry.
Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @Spacedotcom