In looking at details of the tomorrow early morning (Sunday, May 2, 2021) reentry of the crewed SpaceX Dragon capsule, I see that it's reentry plan is for a nighttime splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. I know the Space Shuttle did some nighttime landings, but those were landing on runways, not in a huge body of water.

Having a nighttime landing into water seems much more inherently risky in regards to visibility of spotting the descending spacecraft, finding it in the water, and safely bringing it on board a recovery craft with so much less visibility compared to daytime. So my question - have there been previous splashdowns of crewed spacecraft at nighttime?


1 Answer 1


Yes, Apollo 8 in 1968 reentered at night, splashing down a couple of hours before dawn. After splashdown, the crew were secure in the capsule, so they simply waited for sunrise for the recovery operation to proceed.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ why didn't they just transmit their GPS coordinates (humor) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 2, 2021 at 4:28
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh: It was too dark for them to see which buttons to press ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    May 2, 2021 at 5:38

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