SpaceX returns 4 astronauts to Earth; rare night splashdown

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NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, left, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, right are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, Sunday, May 2, 2021. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission was the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
By MARCIA DUNN AP Aerospace Writer CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX safely returned four astronauts from the International Space Station on Sunday, making the first U.S. crew splashdown in darkness since the Apollo 8 moonshot. The Dragon capsule parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, just before 3 a.m., ending the second astronaut flight for Elon Musk’s company. It was an express trip home, lasting just 6 1/2 hours. The astronauts, three American and one Japanese, flew back in the same capsule — named Resilience — in which they launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in November. “We welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” SpaceX's Mission Control radioed moments after splashdown. “F
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