Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley successfully landed in the ocean off the coast of Florida in a SpaceX spacecraft in the first splashdown to Earth in 45 years!
The spacecraft’s four drogue chutes deployed to slow down the Dragon’s rapid descent and it peacefully landed in the Gulf of Mexico, SpaceX’s Livestream showed.
Dragon was heard to make a ‘sonic boom’ as it re-entered the atmosphere which was audible to witnesses on the ground. The successful end to the crew’s mission initiates a new era for the American space agency.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 2, 2020
All its human transport needs just above the Earth will in future be purchased from private companies, such as SpaceX. The government agency says contracting out to service providers in this way will save it billions of dollars that can be diverted to getting astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
Hurley’s and Behnken’s capsule touched the water at about 14:48 EDT (19:48 BST; 18:48 GMT). “On behalf of the SpaceX and Nasa teams, welcome back to Planet Earth. Thanks for flying SpaceX,” the SpaceX mission control said just after splashdown.
For the return sequence, onboard thrusters and two sets of parachutes worked autonomously to slow the acorn-shaped capsule, bringing Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley’s speed of 17,500 miles per hour in orbit down to 350 mph upon atmospheric re-entry, and eventually 15 mph at splashdown.
During re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule’s outer shell withstood temperatures as high as 3,500 Fahrenheit while Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley, wearing SpaceX’s white flight suits strapped inside the cabin, experienced 85 Fahrenheit.
The crew will spend up to an hour floating inside the capsule before joint recovery teams from SpaceX and NASA retrieve them for a helicopter trip ashore.