In a moment that would be forever etched in mankind’s history, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have successfully returned back to earth, concluding the first ever human spaceflight mission by a private space company. The two astronauts came back home aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that had flown them to the International Space Station back in May.
The entire re-entry process went ahead in textbook precision as Crew Dragon’s autonomous computers ensured Behnken and Hurley enjoy the ride while the computers work up everything else. The splashdown happened moments ago, in the Gulf of Mexico where SpaceX recovery ship ‘GoNavigator’ was present to receive the astronauts.
The capsule is stable in the water. Weather at the time of splashdown has been reported to be exceptionally good.
Everything around the Demo2 mission has been textbook precision so far, paving way for the final certification from NASA that would allow SpaceX to conduct regular commercial operations to the International Space Station. Right from starting in May when the launch happened, to docking, to un-docking yesterday and now splashdown, all processes have concluded successfully without a hitch. What is important to note, is that this is the first capsule splashdown in nearly 45 years, making the feat even more commendable.
With the successful completion of this mission, everything should be in place to allow for the full certification of Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 as rated for human spaceflight according to NASA’s standards – provided a final, thorough review of the entire mission from start to finish doesn’t reveal any remaining issues that need tidying up. But based on what we have seen and heard so far, there doesn’t seem to be any barriers for that certification to happen.
More to follow…