Watch: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Descends To Atlantic Ocean After Successful ISS Mission

Elon Musk’s Crew Dragon recently made history when it successfully docked to the International Space Station (ISS), making it the first commercial mission to fly to the ISS. And just this Friday, the spacecraft safely made its way back to Earth, albeit looking a bit toasted. 

In an update, NASA shared a video clip showing the Crew Dragon descending to the Atlantic Ocean, about 230 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. In the clip, the spacecraft is seen landing on water slowly with the aid of four parachutes. NASA stated that the successful splashdown happened right on time at 8:45 a.m. ET. 

“We were all very excited to see re-entry, parachute and drogue deploy, main deploy, splashdown – everything happened just perfectly. It was right on time, the way that we expected it to be. It was beautiful,” Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX, said.

SpaceX quickly retrieved the Crew Dragon from the ocean. Musk’s company shared a photo of the spacecraft on a recovery vessel on Twitter. Still inside is the space crash test dummy, named Ripley. Outside, the space vehicle looks burnt. 

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a press release that the successful re-entry and recovery of the capsule marked another milestone in the future of human spaceflight. He added that the overall success of the Crew Dragon could only mean that NASA and SpaceX are a step closer to launching American astronauts using American rockets from American soil. 

Bridenstine was apparently referring to the fact that for years the U.S. has been relying on Russia’s Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to bring its American astronauts to and from the ISS. This has been the setup ever since NASA retired its Space Shuttle in July 2011. It’s a costly setup to maintain because each seat on the Soyuz spacecraft costs $80 million, according to

The mission, called Demo-1, took off on March 2 and circled the Earth 18 times before finally halting adjacent to the space station. The Crew Dragon capsule then slowly approached and docked to the ISS and astronauts emptied the 400 pounds of supplies it carried alongside Ripley. Five days after, the craft disengaged from the space station and started deorbiting until it descended to Earth on Friday. 

Scientists are now expected to study all the data retrieved by Ripley’s sensors, so as to identify and anticipate the possible effects of the spacecraft’s travel on human passengers. They will then refurbish the Crew Dragon for a new mission that aims to conduct an in-flight abort test.