SpaceX crew splashes down back to Earth after historic space station mission

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The four astronauts of SpaceX's first ever full mission to the International Space Station have splashed back down to Earth off the coast of Florida.

It is the first US splashdown under the cover of darkness since Apollo 8's return from the moon in 1968.

NASA's Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japan's Soichi Noguchi had been orbiting Earth since November last year and undocked from the International Space Station around six hours prior to entering the atmosphere.

SpaceX is the first private space flight operator to take a crew to and from the International Space Station for a long mission.