SpaceX splashdown off Gulf Coast

Pablo Tucker
August 3, 2020

The launch also marked the first crewed orbital spaceflight from US soil since STS-135, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley made history on May 30 when they became the first people to launch into low-Earth orbit on a commercial spacecraft, built by SpaceX.

Tom Cruise wants to go up in this with his director this space capsule, the Crew Dragon, and film a movie at the International Space Station.

The first astronauts launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX company left the International Space Station on Saturday night for the last and most important part of their test flight to return home.

Adding to the drama is Tropical Storm Isaias, which is headed for Florida's east coast and threatening violent winds that could damage roofs and buildings.

Despite at least a dozen extraordinarily irresponsible private boaters trespassing on the highly sensitive and risky post-splashdown recovery operations and an inexplicable lack of Coast Guard enforcement, SpaceX teams managed to bring Crew Dragon and its passengers aboard recovery vessel GO Searcher just half an hour or so after splashdown.

"Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission".

"It was truly our honor and privilege", replied Hurley.

At a farewell ceremony earlier in the day, Cassidy, who will remain on board with two Russians until October, presented Hurley with the small US flag left behind by the previous astronauts to launch to the space station from USA soil.

Endeavour will then deploy two sets of parachutes on its descent, bringing its speed down to a mere 15 miles per hour (24 kph) as it hits the water. Peak heating during descent was 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The anticipated top G forces felt by the crew: four to five times the force of Earth's gravity.

A successful splashdown, Behnken said, will bring USA -crew launching capability "full circle".

The opening of the hatch was held up briefly by extra checks for toxic rocket fumes outside the capsule. After an initial check on Go Navigator, Hurley and Behnken will be taken to shore by helicopter, then flown back to their home base in Houston.

The Crew Dragon capsule is expected to splash down around 2:48 p.m.

"It's really establishing the business model for the future", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an appearance on NASA TV Aug. 2 a couple hours before splashdown.

The Soyuz 23 mission in October 1976 accidentally landed in Lake Tengiz in the middle of blizzard. The Mercury and Gemini crews in the early to mid-1960s parachuted into the Atlantic, while most of the later Apollo capsules hit the Pacific.

The splashdown took place despite the presence of Hurricane Isaias, which did not have a significant effect on the mission. Now SpaceX is on the verge of becoming the first company to bring people back from orbit.

President Trump and Vice President Pence, who both watched the launch in Florida, sent congratulations.

On Sunday morning Hurley and Behnken woke up to a message from their children who were all excited for their return.

"Thank you again from the Good Ship Endeavour", Behnken told mission controllers.

Splashdown remains scheduled for 2:48 p.m. EDT following a almost two-month test flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Hoping to galvanise a commercial space marketplace, Nasa awarded almost US$8 billion to SpaceX and Boeing Co collectively in 2014 to develop dueling space capsules, experimenting with a contract model that allows the space agency to buy astronaut seats from the two companies. Now, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are ready to come home. The contract also includes up to six operational flights to the station. Hurley and Behnken's capsule will be refurbished for another flight next spring.

Boeing doesn't expect to launch its first crew until next year. Its capsules will touch down in the U.S. Southwest desert. But there was also a special item - an American flag left on the space station by the last space shuttle crew for the next crew launching from the retrieve.

The mission marked the first time Nasa launched humans from United States soil since its shuttle program retired in 2011. Their young sons chose the toy to accompany their fathers on the historic mission.

Other reports by iNewsToday