NASA TV footage showed the capsule drifting down into the ocean, its decent slowed by its four main orange and white parachutes, which gently folded into the water around it as boats sped toward the site.
In June, the Crew Dragon will have to conduct an emergency abort system test, which will ensure that this feature is good to go before SpaceX sends a human crew to the ISS.
The Dragon 2 capsule's return to Earth started at 2:30 AM EDT when it undocked from the station. Astronauts closed the hatch to the spacecraft just before 1 p.m. Thursday. The smell was gone after the space station's air was cycled, but the unnamed source within Russia's space program made sure everyone knew about it.
"Everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to", Benjamin Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said in a live stream from California.
"Even though it was historic and emotional, we were really heads down making sure we were doing everything step-by-step correctly" when opening Crew Dragon's hatch, Saint-Jacques said, "but I had these moments of, 'oh, a-ha, ' with the light of the inside and the view of the lovely cockpit".
"Fifty years after humans landed on the moon for the first time, America has driven a golden spike on the trail to new space exploration feats through the work of our commercial partner SpaceX", astronaut Anne McClain said as the Crew Dragon departed the space station. It's the first commercial flight to dock with the ISS and it's the first American made crew-carrying spacecraft to be launched by the United States in eight years.
"We can't wait", she said.
Crew members of International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 58 have continued to bring the unofficial DM-1 Crew Dragon "mascot" along as they complete station activities.
Onboard the craft was a "lifelike test device" given the nickname Ripley. A plush-toy version of Earth was also included as a zero-gravity mascot, along with 400 pounds of supplies.
SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, have contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively. But he said he thought it was "unlikely" since the company had run "simulations a thousand times". "He's going to welcome us aboard probably when we get there". It's slated to fly an uncrewed demo mission no earlier than April. For example, some tweaks may need to be made to the thruster system, and the parachute system still has to be fully certified for crewed flights.
After dropping behind and below the lab, the Crew Dragon adjusted its orbit and jettisoned its empty trunk section, an unpressurized cargo compartment behind the crew compartment, to set the stage for entry. Few people would be surprised if Demo-2 was launched later than July.
"Today's successful re-entry and recovery of the Crew Dragon capsule after its first mission to the International Space Station marked another important milestone in the future of human spaceflight".
Next up is the first crewed flight for the Crew Dragon.