NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have safely returned to Earth after splashing down in the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 2.
The pair, who were returning from a two-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS), were met by crew from a recovery vessel soon after landing in the water, with a photographer capturing a shot of Behnken and Hurley still secured in their seats shortly before the pair were helped out of the capsule.
Both astronauts offered a smile and a thumbs-up following the trip back home, which began on Saturday. After being flown from the recovery ship back to land, Behnken and Hurley will be given medical examinations before being reunited with their families.
Seconds after splashdown, Mission Control said: “Welcome back to Planet Earth, and thanks for flying SpaceX,” with Hurley responding, “It’s truly our honor and privilege.”
The Demo-2 test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program was the first to deliver astronauts to the ISS and return them safely to Earth onboard a commercially built and operated spacecraft, and marked the first astronaut launch and landing on U.S. soil (and water!) since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011.
The mission marks another significant step forward for SpaceX as it continues to develop its reusable space transportation system for more cost-effective missions. The Crew Capsule will now be cleaned up and thoroughly checked before being used for another mission — Crew-1 — targeted for September 2020.
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