Welcome home: SpaceX ends 5-month mission, splashes down off western Florida coast

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Four astronauts aboard the SpaceX capsule splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida on Saturday night, NASA officials said.

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The four-member crew, which included NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, splashed down in their Dragon capsule west of the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, NASA said.

The astronauts spent five months at the International Space Station, according to The Associated Press.

Crew members checked out of the ISS early Saturday and returned to earth less than 19 hours later to complete their 157-day mission, NASA said.

“That was one heck of a ride,” Mann radioed to NASA officials moments after splashdown. “We’re happy to be home.”

Their return was delayed earlier this week by high winds and waves in the splashdown zone, the AP reported.

The crew’s replacements arrived at the ISS last week.

“Welcome home, Crew-5! This international crew has been conducting critical science experiments and technology demonstrations on the International Space Station that will help prepare us for future deep space missions and pave the way for our return to the Moon,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “Each advancement these explorers make is not an achievement for one, but a giant leap for all of humanity.”

The crew traveled 66,577,531 miles during their mission and orbited the Earth 2,512 times, NASA said.

The mission was the first space flight for Mann, Cassada and Kikina, according to NASA. Wakata completed his fifth flight and has logged 505 days in space.