SpaceX: Crew Dragon Astronauts Make a Historical Return to Earth
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley became the first astronauts to land on the sea from space after 45 years.
Astronauts landed in the ocean off Florida at 7:48 pm Sunday, after a 19-hour journey from the International Space Station.
The mission control unit said right after the landing; “On behalf of SpaceX and NASA teams, I would like to say that you are welcome to Earth. Thanks for flying SpaceX. ”
With this return on May 30, Behnken and Hurley made history as the first humans to enter low Earth orbit in a private company’s spacecraft built by SpaceX.
This mission, dubbed Demo-2, will also be remembered when NASA sent an astronaut to space for the first time in 9 years from US soil.
SpaceX’s astronaut spaceship, Crew Dragon, has landed off Pensacola in western Florida.
Astronauts last landed in the ocean with the Apollo Mission in July 1975.
Since then, all landings have been over the ground.
NASA’s Space Shuttle, which was retired in 2011, landed on the runway like a commercial airplane.
Other advanced crewed vehicles were also designed to land on the ground, including Russia’s Soyuz vehicle and China’s Shenzhou vehicle.
A commercial spacecraft ready to launch astronauts from US soil into space, this landing ushered in a new era for NASA.
Designed to test SpaceX’s system to send humans into space, this mission was the final step after launch, docking, landing, and rescue.
As Crew Dragon entered the earth’s atmosphere, it encountered a temperature of about 1900 ° C.
Although the International Space Station rotates in orbit about 260 miles above Earth, the capsule took almost 1 day to land in the water.
Crew Dragon made a series of maneuvers to lower his trajectory and land on the water.
He then managed to reduce the landing speed from 17,500 mph to 15 mph using his parachutes.
SpaceX capsule landing in the Gulf of Mexico
During re-entry into the atmosphere, the warm air enveloping the capsule-like veil caused temporary interruptions in communication.
The SpaceX rescue team, named GoNavigator, with its spacecraft engineers, rescue specialists, and medical doctors, helped astronauts exit the capsule to re-adjust to gravity.
As the spacecraft began landing, a dozen ships in the surrounding area were told to move away. This is because hazardous chemicals such as the hydrazine in Crew Dragon and nitrogen tetraoxide pose a potential hazard.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that “it was not what we expected” for the existence of private boats in the vicinity and “we should do a better job in the next one.”
Atmosphere re-entry marked the finale of SpaceX’s manned spaceflight mission.
The aviation company’s first operational flight is expected in September. In this flight, the second Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry 4 astronauts to the space station.
Earlier next year, the capsule carrying Hurley and Behnken into space will be remodeled as Crew 2 and presented for SpaceX’s second operational crew mission.
Boeing, another aerospace company, is developing spacecraft to be part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and send astronauts to the space station.