Four people returned to Earth from a three-day extraterrestrial excursion aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday evening. After traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the spacecraft used Earth’s own thick blanket of air to slow itself down, with the outside of the craft reaching temperatures up to 3,500º Fahrenheit in the process. The capsule plunged toward the ocean. The crew was whisked back to Florida by helicopter. “You know we had a couple of issues that we worked, we did work something on the Waste Management System,” Benji Reed, SpaceX’s director of crew mission management, said during a post-flight briefing. “But that was fine, and you know, the crew was happy and healthy,” he added. The issues was with the waste management system’s fan. There was also an issue with a temperature sensor in one of the Draco thrusters used to move the capsule in outer space.
NASA officials appreciated the Crew Dragon is likely the safest crewed vehicle ever flown. During their stay in space, the civilians on board said they’d conduct a bit of scientific research focused on how their bodies respond to being in space. “Thanks so much SpaceX, it was a heck of a ride for us,” billionaire and “Inspiration4” mission commander Jared Isaacman said after being back on Earth. SpaceX has contracts for five other private missions, as well as at least four additional NASA-contracted missions.