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Photo: NASA

An international crew of four astronauts is back on Earth after a long-duration stay on the International Space Station.

The big picture: Sunday's splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico marks the end of SpaceX's first fully operational crewed mission to the space station.

A night-vision camera captures the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule parachuting in the Gulf of Mexico as boats arrive to pick up the astronauts. Photo: NASA TV

What's happening: NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan's Soichi Noguchi splashed down about 3a.m. ET after undocking from the space station Saturday evening.

  • The return of this crew leaves a crew of seven people on the space station now, four flown up by another SpaceX mission and three that flew to space aboard Russia's Soyuz.

What's next: The Crew Dragon capsule — named Resilience — will now be turned around so it can be used for SpaceX's next crewed flight, the Inspiration 4 mission to orbit expected to launch in September.

  • As part of its refurbishment, SpaceX is planning to install a large window in place of the spacecraft's docking adaptor to give the all-civilian crew an unmatched view of space while in orbit.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with images from the splashdown.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 1, 2021 - Science

Vice President Harris will chair the National Space Council

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with NASA astronaut Victor Glover. Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

The Biden administration will keep the National Space Council — reestablished initially by the Trump administration — and Vice President Kamala Harris plans to chair it.

Why it matters: Many see the National Space Council as integral to policy development and inter-agency collaboration as the nation increasingly relies on space for national security and other uses.

Apr 30, 2021 - Science

NASA orders SpaceX to stop work on lunar spacecraft as rivals challenge contract

Photo: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images

NASA has told Elon Musk's SpaceX to pause work under an exclusive Moon program contract until the Government Accountability Office rules on rival bidders' challenges, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Companies including Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin vied for the contract as a source of funding to build a lunar spacecraft. The high-profile project is looking to send humans back to the Moon for the first time since 1972.

Tech's war for your wrist

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech's biggest companies are ramping up competition for the real estate between your hand and your elbow.

The big picture: The next big hardware platform after the smartphone will likely involve devices for your eyes, your ears and your wrists.