Crew Dragon Safely Returns Astronauts to Earth, Despite Minor Hiccup

Soon after 2:48 P.M. ET on Sunday, August 2, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico after expending the previous two months aboard the Worldwide Room Station (ISS). The function was not only the to start with water landing considering that 1975, it also marked the to start with time any astronauts have safely splashed down in a crew capsule developed by a personal spaceflight corporation — particularly, SpaceX. 

“It’s a testomony to what we can carry out when we work alongside one another to do something once believed unattainable,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine explained in a NASA press launch. “Partners are vital to how we go farther than ever right before and just take the subsequent actions on daring missions to the moon and Mars.”

What Is it Like to Occur Back again to Earth?

The Crew Dragon left the Worldwide Room Station (ISS) at all around seven:30 P.M. ET on Saturday, August 2. Following locking the hatches and departing the ISS, the capsule done a sequence of motor burns during the evening to assure it was on the proper route residence. Through that time, Behnken and Hurley also acquired their necessary eight hrs of snooze right before obtaining wake-up calls from their young children right before reentry.

In some strategies, the return journey can be even far more unsafe than the initial liftoff. 

Initially zipping all around Earth at some 17,000 miles (27,350 kilometers) for each hour, Crew Dragon to start with pierced by Earth’s higher environment. As friction slowed the craft, the temperature outside the house the capsule swelled to about 3,five hundred degrees Fahrenheit (one,900 Celsius). But within, many thanks to warmth shields on the exterior of the spacecraft, the temperature remained beneath eighty five F (29.5 C) — heat, but all things viewed as, pretty cozy. 

While the warmth shields secured the blistering spacecraft, a bubble of ionized gas surrounding Crew Dragon brought on an predicted and short term six-minute communications blackout. Through this time, Behnken and Hurley seasoned forces up to 5 times the strength of Earth’s gravity. These forces have been substantially far more rigorous than people astronauts seasoned in the course of Room Shuttle missions, but they also didn’t previous as extended. 

When the spacecraft reached about 400 mph (645 km/h), Crew Dragon deployed two drogue parachutes to further gradual and stabilize the craft right before setting unfastened its 4 key parachutes. These lessened the speed of the capsule to all around 16 mph (26 km/h). About two minutes later on, Behnken and Hurley productively splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico.


Even with issue for significant winds and waves to disrupt Crew Dragon’s return, the weather conditions was close to excellent in the course of the splashdown landing. (Credit history: NASA/Monthly bill Ingalls)


Recovery “fast boats” swept in straight away after splashdown, and many lookie-loos in enjoyment boats converged all around the web-site shortly after. While some of the restoration crew ensured there have been no poisonous fumes lingering all around the spacecraft, other folks labored to drag the parachutes out of the ocean. 

Following, the restoration ship Go Navigator shut in on the capsule. A substantial rig on the ship plucked Crew Dragon from the water, carefully putting it onboard in a dock nicknamed the “Dragon’s nest.”


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 history: NASA/Monthly bill Ingalls)

Behnken and Hurley continue to experienced pretty a extended wait left, on the other hand. Their exit from the capsule was delayed thanks to the detection of reduced amounts of probably poisonous propellant they would have experienced to go by upon departure. In an abundance of warning, restoration crews vented the fumes, and quickly adequate, Behnken and Hurley have been served out of the capsule. Next regular method, the astronauts have been taken out of Crew Dragon on stretchers, but they both of those gave cameras the thumbs up as they have been handed off to NASA’s health care workforce. Following a speedy examine-up, Behnken and Hurley have been taken to satisfy with their households. 

Over-all, Dragon was a productive flight. But above the subsequent number of weeks, scientists and engineers will examine and double-examine the mission and reentry details, hunting for any likely difficulties that continue to will need tackled. NASA states the start day for the to start with typical, totally operational Crew Dragon flight — instead than a demo mission — will be no previously than late-September of this year.

You can watch the overall function beneath, courtesy of SpaceX. (Skip to six:24:08 to watch the parachute deployment, splashdown, and restoration.