NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, August 2, marking the final stage in a historic mission that used — for the very first time — a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.
It was also the first crewed launch and landing in U.S. territory since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, and the first splashdown since 1975.
While NASA live-streamed the Crew Dragon’s journey home from the International Space Station after a two-month stay, the pictures of the capsule coming down in the water off the coast of Florida were a little on the fuzzy side.
But the space agency has just posted a high-resolution video (below) of the spectacular homecoming so now you can enjoy it in glorious 4K.
Slowed by four enormous parachutes, the capsule can be seen floating down toward the water as a recovery crew, dispatched from the larger GO Navigator recovery vessel, makes its way out to meet Hurley and Behnken.
Shortly after landing, the crew opened the hatch to check on the condition of the two astronauts while it waited for the GO Navigator to reach the capsule. After it was hauled out of the water and onto the ship, Hurley and Behnken were helped out before being sent on one more flight, back to the mainland, for a health check-up.
The Crew Dragon, meanwhile, was taken back to land for inspection and maintenance. If the capsule is deemed to be in good shape, it’ll be used again next month in a joint NASA-SpaceX mission that will take four astronauts — three American and one Japanese — to the space station.
At a “welcome home” event for Hurley and Behnken that took place just five hours after their return, Elon Musk, the man who founded SpaceX in 2002 with the aim of creating a reusable rocket transportation system, said the mission marked “a new age of space exploration,” adding, “We’re going to go to the moon, we’re going to have a base on the moon, we’re going to send people to Mars, and make life multi-planetary.”
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