The Crew Dragon capsule is heading back to Earth after spending a week docked at the ISS. Six hours later, the capsule carrying a test dummy parachuted into the ocean, a couple hundred miles off the Florida coast.
It marks the first time in 50 years that a capsule designed for astronauts returned from space by plopping into the Atlantic.
The undocking, descent from Earth orbit and water-landing are the final stages of the SpaceX Crew Dragon's first test flight.
"Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed!" the SpaceX account tweeted along with an image of the capsule showing its four main white and orange parachutes deployed as two boats sped towards it.
Some issues still need to be resolved before that crewed mission. There are a lot of factors that can affect the actual time of touchdown, but Crew Dragon splashed down at exactly 8:45 a.m., and SpaceX made it all look pretty easy. "@Commercial_Crew is one step closer to launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil".
Video footage of tests show the thrusters allowing a tethered capsule to hover in mid air.
"I'm kind of shaky and I'm super excited", said Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management.
"You see the light from the atmosphere as it heats up", astronaut Bob Behnken said of re-entry.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine hailed the splashdown, saying it "marked another milestone in a new era of human spaceflight". SpaceX sent a very special crew member aboard its first test flight, a mannequin named Ripley. NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques opened the hatch Sunday becoming the first to enter the new vehicle in space. Certainly, this triumphant moment capped an emotional week for a company that has worked for the better part of a decade to develop a crewed spacecraft. SpaceX and NASA will now examine the capsule and the data collected by the craft's only passenger, a sensor-packed dummy called Ripley. "I want to once again congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams on an incredible week".
But like the launch, the docking went off without a hitch, and soon the three astronauts on board the station - Nasa's Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko of Russian Federation, and Canada's David Saint-Jacques - were able to check out the first commercial space vehicle designed for human space flight ever to dock with the station.
In so doing, NASA hopes to turn over the task of "routine" transportation to low-Earth orbit to the private sector, freeing up government resources for deep space exploration - a return to the moon and eventual flights to Mars.