The SpaceX mission marks the first time NASA astronauts have splashed down sine 1975.
Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have come back down to earth. Their test mission ended with the capsule coming down and splashing into the water in the Gulf of Mexico.
On July 24, 1975, the Apollo Command Module splashed down near Hawaii. After this descent, American astronauts wouldn’t splash down for another 45 years: until today, August 2, 2020.
Mission Control hailed the astronauts as they landed: “Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX.”
Inside the capsule, just before exiting, Doug Hurley offered a message to those who worked on the project:
Anybody who’s touched Endeavour, you should take a moment to just cherish the day, especially given all the things that have happened this year.Doug Hurley
Now, Hurley and Behnken are on solid ground after an intense descent. During re-entry into the atmosphere, the spacecraft changed its speed from 28,000 km/h to 560 km/h. When it was splashing down, it slowed to 24 km/h.
It was a toasty journey back down to earth. The hottest temperature the spacecraft reached was 1,900 C. The descent also meant huge G forces with the strongest forces the astronauts felt being estimated at four or five times Earth’s gravity.
Coronavirus tests for the recovery crew were mandated by SpaceX. The staff of the recovery ship, the SpaceX GO Navigator, included medical crew. All the staff members quarantined themselves for two weeks prior to splashdown.
Overall, the mission was a sweeping success. It made history as the first time ever that a private company sent humans to space. NASA and SpaceX both see the event as promising.
For Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s Administrator, this mission means “the next era in human spaceflight where NASA gets to be the customer.” He said that he “would love to see a fleet of crew Dragons servicing not just the International Space Station but also commercial space stations.”
The President of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell, said that the mission was the first step to “doing even harder things,” like SpaceX and NASA working together to send more astronauts to our moon and eventually to Mars.
Article source: AP
Featured image source: Bill Ingalls/NASA