Shortly just after two:48 P.M. ET on Sunday, August two, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico just after investing the earlier two months aboard the International House Station (ISS). The party was not only the first h2o landing considering that 1975, it also marked the first time any astronauts have safely splashed down in a crew capsule built by a personal spaceflight company — namely, SpaceX. 

“It’s a testament to what we can attain when we function with each other to do something the moment imagined extremely hard,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a NASA press launch. “Partners are important to how we go farther than at any time before and acquire the following measures on daring missions to the moon and Mars.”

What Is it Like to Appear Again to Earth?

The Crew Dragon left the International House Station (ISS) at close to 7:thirty P.M. ET on Saturday, August two. Right after locking the hatches and departing the ISS, the capsule done a sequence of engine burns all through the night to ensure it was on the appropriate route dwelling. For the duration of that time, Behnken and Hurley also received their essential eight hours of rest before getting wake-up calls from their youngsters before reentry.

In some methods, the return vacation can be even more perilous than the initial liftoff. 

To begin with zipping close to Earth at some seventeen,000 miles (27,350 kilometers) for each hour, Crew Dragon first pierced by Earth’s upper ambiance. As friction slowed the craft, the temperature outdoors the capsule swelled to about 3,five hundred levels Fahrenheit (one,900 Celsius). But inside, thanks to heat shields on the exterior of the spacecraft, the temperature remained underneath 85 F (29.five C) — warm, but all points regarded, really at ease. 

When the heat shields protected the blistering spacecraft, a bubble of ionized fuel bordering Crew Dragon brought on an anticipated and short term 6-minute communications blackout. For the duration of this time, Behnken and Hurley skilled forces up to five periods the energy of Earth’s gravity. These forces have been a lot more extreme than people astronauts skilled throughout House Shuttle missions, but they also did not final as very long. 

When the spacecraft reached about four hundred mph (645 km/h), Crew Dragon deployed two drogue parachutes to even more slow and stabilize the craft before location free its four key parachutes. These diminished the velocity of the capsule to close to sixteen mph (26 km/h). About two minutes later, Behnken and Hurley productively splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico.

Irrespective of problem for significant winds and waves to disrupt Crew Dragon’s return, the weather was close to great throughout the splashdown landing. (Credit rating: NASA/Invoice Ingalls)

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Recovery “fast boats” swept in right away just after splashdown, and several lookie-loos in pleasure boats converged close to the web-site shortly just after. When some of the restoration crew ensured there have been no toxic fumes lingering close to the spacecraft, other individuals worked to drag the parachutes out of the ocean. 

Upcoming, the restoration ship Go Navigator closed in on the capsule. A large rig on the ship plucked Crew Dragon from the h2o, carefully putting it onboard in a dock nicknamed the “Dragon’s nest.”

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft is pulled from the Gulf of Mexico by SpaceX’s GO Navigator restoration ship. It was then nestled into the “Dragon nest”. (Credit rating: NASA/Invoice Ingalls)

Behnken and Hurley however experienced really a very long wait around left, even so. Their exit from the capsule was delayed because of to the detection of very low degrees of possibly toxic propellant they would have experienced to pass by upon departure. In an abundance of warning, restoration crews vented the fumes, and soon sufficient, Behnken and Hurley have been helped out of the capsule. Adhering to regular method, the astronauts have been taken out of Crew Dragon on stretchers, but they each gave cameras the thumbs up as they have been handed off to NASA’s health-related workforce. Right after a brief check out-up, Behnken and Hurley have been taken to fulfill with their family members. 

General, Dragon was a productive flight. But over the following couple of weeks, scientists and engineers will check out and double-check out the mission and reentry knowledge, searching for any potential concerns that however need dealt with. NASA says the start date for the first typical, totally operational Crew Dragon flight — instead than a demo mission — will be no earlier than late-September of this 12 months.

You can enjoy the complete party underneath, courtesy of SpaceX. (Skip to 6:24:08 to enjoy the parachute deployment, splashdown, and restoration.