The four Crew-1 astronauts splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico right on schedule early Sunday, returning to Earth after a six-month stay on the International Space Station.

The astronauts — three Americans and one from Japan — had undocked from the station at 8:35 p.m. Saturday, flew through the atmosphere and then touched down in the Gulf of Mexico under four massive parachutes at about 2:57 a.m. ET Sunday.

The return mission appeared to go flawlessly from start to finish, with the autonomous SpaceX Dragon spacecraft firing its engines on schedule to slow it down enough to pull it out of orbit and into the atmosphere. Within an hour of splashdown, the capsule had been lifted aboard a recovery ship and the four astronauts had disembarked, to be flown first to Florida aboard a helicopter and then aboard a NASA plane to Houston.

“It really could not have been a more flawless journey home for Crew Dragon Resilience,” said NASA public affairs officer Leah Cheshier.

Once the crew splashed down, SpaceX mission control had some fun with the astronauts: “We welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flyer program, you’ve earned 68 million miles on this voyage.”

What you need to know:

  • The Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico at about 2:57 a.m. ET Sunday off the coast of Panama City, Fla.
  • It’s the first time a U.S. space capsule has landed under the cover of darkness since 1968. It was only the second time that a spacecraft has splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Weather conditions were excellent, with little wind and glass-like seas. The descent was captured by cameras on board the recovery ship and aboard a nearby aircraft.
  • The astronauts aboard the capsule, Americans Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi of Japan, set the record for the most days in space by a crew launched on a United States spacecraft, surpassing the milestone of 84 days that was set by the Skylab 4 crew in 1974.