SpaceX Crew-2 Re-entry Videos Show Astronauts' Fiery Return to Earth Before Splashdown

Four astronauts successfully returned to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) last night, leaving a blazing trail of fire behind them as they re-entered our planet's atmosphere.

The astronauts were Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA, Akihiko Hoshide from Japan's JAXA space agency, and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency.

They were part of Crew-2, a collaborative mission between NASA and private U.S. rocket company SpaceX to carry out a long-duration commercial stay on the ISS. The crew spent 198 days on the space station altogether.

They returned to Earth inside one of SpaceX's reusable Dragon capsules, designed to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

As the spacecraft hurtled through Earth's atmosphere, the friction and heat of re-entry caused a fiery trail that was seen by people on the ground.

Several video clips of the re-entry have been uploaded to Twitter, many of which were taken in New Orleans, Louisiana.

They show how the capsule looks similar to a shooting star in slow-motion as it crosses the dark sky.

@MargaretOrr just saw Space-X over Bayou St John! #NOLA

— julie (@DoxieNOLA) November 9, 2021

Space. Ain’t it something. #SpaceX

— George Bevan (@gpbevan1) November 9, 2021

Please excuse the excitement and language. I was overwhelmed

— Amber (@babymonoxide) November 9, 2021

After the capsule's colorful re-entry it splashed down off the coast of Florida at 10:33 p.m. ET, marking the end of the more than six-month mission.

"We're happy to have Shane, Megan, Aki, and Thomas safely back on Earth after another successful, record-setting long-duration mission to the International Space Station," said NASA administrator Bill Nelson in a press release.

"Congratulations to the teams at NASA and SpaceX who worked so hard to ensure their successful splashdown."

The mission started back in April 23 this year when the astronauts launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in the same Dragon capsule they just returned in. The launch was carried out with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Altogether the Crew-2 astronauts traveled nearly 85 million miles during their mission aboard the ISS as they orbited Earth more than 3,000 times.

Whilst on the ISS they conducted scientific experiments, spacewalks to keep the station maintained, and installed new technology such as flying robotic assistants.

Crew-2 is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program which aims to place astronauts on the ISS using U.S. rockets launched from U.S. soil by offering contracts to private companies.

For many years NASA had to rely on Russia to get astronauts into space via Soyuz rockets and capsules.

Crew-2 will be followed by Crew-3, which is expected to launch as soon as Wednesday this week.

Crew-3 will be replaced by Crew-4 around April 2022.

SpaceX Dragon capsule
A SpaceX Dragon capsule seen orbiting the Earth in April 2016 in this photo taken by astronaut Tim Peake aboard the ISS. NASA and SpaceX are collaborating to launch space missions from the U.S. Tim Peake/ESA / NASA / Getty