Historic NASA-Manned SpaceX Capsule Returns To Earth, Lands In Gulf Of Mexico

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GULF OF MEXICO - AUGUST 2: In this screen grab from NASA TV, SpaceX 's Crew Dragon capsule spacecraft just before it splashes down in to the water after completing NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, August 2, 2020 off the coast of Pensacola, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. The Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceXs crew transportation system. Behnken and Hurley launched at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011
NASA via Getty Images

Dragon Capsule, the first NASA-manned privately built capsule to launch into space, splashed down into the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon, bringing astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley back home after about 2 months at the International Space Station (ISS).

The capsule landed in the ocean just before 3pm EST and was met with applause from the mission control team, which had been live-streaming the command center and final minutes of the capsule’s descent back to Earth.

Although the audio from the Dragon Capsule was choppy, Doug Hurley could be heard saying “all good” shortly after splashdown. Fast boats quickly commenced the final portion of the mission, which involved hoisting the capsule onto a recovery ship, from which the astronauts will emerge.

NASA posted a video of the splash landing on Twitter, which shows the capsule landing in the Gulf of Mexico at an expected 15-16 miles per hour. Someone could be heard saying, “Thanks for flying SpaceX.”

 

The hatch to the capsule was opened aboard the recovery ship at 3:59 EST, and astronaut Behnken was the first to be brought out of the space craft, which the duo was allowed to nickname “Endeavour.”

“To anybody who has touched Endeavour, you should take a moment to just cherish this day, especially given all the things that have happened this year,” said Hurley. “We certainly can’t thank you enough, our families can’t thank you enough.”

Hurley joined Behnken outside of the capsule shortly after.

During a press conference from space on Friday, Hurley explained that the two of them had been preparing for the splash landing, a physically demanding way to return to Earth that has not happened with a NASA-manned capsule since 1975.

“The water-landing portion of it is pretty challenging from a physiological standpoint just after coming back from being in microgravity,” said Hurly.

“We’ve exercised very hard while we’ve been up here, and we’re just trying to put ourselves in the best posture to deal with those affects,” he said.

Despite the unprecedented nature of landing a manned private spacecraft, Behnken told reporters on Friday that he wasn’t too worried about the mission ahead.

“We’re focused on the things that we’ll need to do to be as safe as possible,” said Benkhen.

[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional information].

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