NASA astronauts describe noisy, jolting descent

Pablo Tucker
August 6, 2020

"It came alive", Behnken told reporters of the almost 12-minute thruster burn.

The thrusters were firing to keep the capsule, called 'Endeavour, ' pointed precisely at its target site off the coast of Pensacola, for the first water landing by a USA spaceship since 1975.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle was designed for short-term missions, and Behnken and Hurley's mission had only been expected to last a week.

At a news conference from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, their first extensive public remarks since coming home, Behnken, 50, and Hurley, 53, described the tense final moments of their 64-day journey.

The thrusters that keep the capsule on track were firing nearly continuously, he said.

During the return from the International Space Station (ISS), the crew module has to separate from a section called the trunk, which has solar panels and heat-removal radiators. "I did record some audio but it doesn't sound like a machine, it sounds like an animal", said Behnken.


At that place, the to start with of two sets of parachutes had been deployed, abruptly breaking the capsule's speed additional - an interval that felt "really significantly like acquiring strike in the back of the chair with a baseball bat", Behnken recalled.

"It was a rather significant jolt", he explained. "My compliments to SpaceX and the Commercial Crew Program".

The Crew Dragon splashed down south of Pensacola, Florida, amid dozens of boaters, some motoring close to the gently rocking capsule regardless of before Coastline Guard warnings to keep distinct.

They were asked to leave amid concern over hazardous chemicals venting from the capsule's propulsion system.

Hurley said the capsule's windows were scorched from reentry and so neither he nor Behnken could see "the other flotilla that was out there".

"We certainly appreciate the folks wanting to participate in the event, but there are some safety aspects that - as the administrator [Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine] said - we'll have to take a look at, because it can't happen like it did before".


"Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying with SpaceX", stated Mission Control from the company's headquarters. "I know Doug will tell you there are things that could have been improved or would have been improved if we flew a 136", he said.

The expedition marked the first time astronauts have been launched to orbit aboard a privately-built spacecraft. While the veteran scientist, did serve as a Mission Specialist aboard STS-125, the final space shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, this will be her first visit to the ISS and, of course, first trip on the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

In the intervening years, it has paid Russian Federation tens of millions of dollars per seat to launch United States crew members on the Soyuz vehicle. Including six excursions all through two earlier shuttle missions, Behnken now ranks fourth on the record of most seasoned spacewalkers, with 61 hours and 10 minutes used outside the station.

The duo endured great, jolting forces as the SpaceX-created Crew Dragon, an acorn-formed auto or truck that experienced carried them to the Worldwide Room Station, fired rocket thrusters to slow its descent for re-entry, then pierced the outer ambiance.

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