SpaceX Brings NASA Astronauts Home in Milestone Test Flight

Katie Ramirez
August 5, 2020

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (L) and Douglas Hurley are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule spacecraft that landed in the Gulf of Mexico after completing the Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station on August 2, 2020, off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule safely returned NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon. Which was kind of fun, by the way, ' Hurley said during a welcome-home ceremony in Houston, where NASA's astronaut corps is based.

After 64 days and 1,024 orbits, SpaceX Demo-2, the first manned commercial test flight to the ISS, has racked up another first.

A visibly excited SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the mission heralded a new era. "I'm not very religious, but I prayed for this one".

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement, "I will tell you it's a attractive sunny day and a lot of boaters were out there and they were certainly intrigued".

"Today we really made history", Bridenstine told an earlier press conference.

According to reports, the capsule parachuted into the water about 40 miles off the coast of Pensacola.

The crew's retrieval from Crew Dragon was delayed slightly as the teams worked to flush its fuel tanks after sensing traces of nitrogen tetroxide fumes outside the capsule, a toxic gas from one the spacecraft's flammable fuels.

After spending a night in the space on Saturday en route Earth, the astronauts were woken up to messages from their sons.

The re-entry marks the end of SpaceX's human spaceflight demonstration mission.

Waves increase in Vero Beach as Isaias approaches Florida coast
A hurricane warning was in effect from Boca Raton, just north of Miami, about 150 miles north to the Volusia/Brevard County Line. He said supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and hardware stores would be allowed to be open as long as weather permitted.

He also added the United States flag emoji followed by the word "returned", in reference to a rivalry with Boeing over which company's astronaut crew would be the first to bring an American flag left on the space station in 2011 back to Earth.

The pair were to undergo medical checks onshore in Pensacola ahead of a flight to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. They stayed there for two months before undertaking the risky return trip.

The SpaceX capsule splashes down on Sunday, Aug 2, 2020, in the Gulf of Mexico.

"I'm happy you went into space but I'm even happier that you're coming back home".

The mission is also a huge win for SpaceX, which was founded in 2002 but has leapfrogged its way past Boeing, its main competitor in the commercial space race.

Billionaire entrepreneur Musk's SpaceX became the first private company to send humans to orbit with the launch of Behnken and Hurley.

For SpaceX, the flight is a signature achievement 18 years after Musk founded the company with the ultimate goal of populating other planets.

In 1969, NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to step out on to the moon's surface in the groundbreaking Apollo 11 mission.

The astronauts carried out a number of tasks and experiments while on the station, with Hurley snapping some great photos of what can be seen from space, including pictures of Cape Town, Joburg, and Pretoria. The craft has been observed to be in a "very healthy" condition in the initial reports. "That was the good moment".

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