'Thanks for flying SpaceX': NASA astronauts complete a historic space mission

Updated: Aug 03, 2020, 01:20 PM(IST)

On August 02, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley had a successful splash down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday 2:48pm.

With this, NASA and SpaceX have successfully concluded an important mission as it was the first time a private company was able to launch a human-controlled spacecraft and bring the astronauts back. For NASA, it was the first time since its shuttle program retired in 2011.

Here's a look at the journey of the astronauts in the past two months.

Falcon 9 launched

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station.


Booster rock separated itself after launch

Minutes after launch, the first-stage booster rocket of the Falcon 9 separated from the upper second-stage rocket and flew itself back to Earth to descend safely onto a landing platform floating in the Atlantic.


Post-hatch opening

Crew Dragon astronauts Douglas Hurley(R) and Robert Behnken (2ndR) arriving after the hatch opened to the International Space Station


En route Earth

After more than two months of stay, the two NASA astronauts left the International Space Station on August 1 after a small farewell ceremony, and readied the spacecraft for entering the orbit, despite hurricane warnings in the US.

SpaceX confirmed the separation of the craft from ISS on Twitter by tweeting, "Separation confirmed. Dragon performing 4 departure burns to move away from the @Space_Station" along with a video.

Photo courtesy: NASA


Bearing the heat

SpaceX Crew Dragon 'Endeavour' firing one of its thrusters to back away from the International Space Station photographed by Space.

During reentry to Earth's atmosphere, the capsule's outer shell withstood temperatures as high as 3,500 Fahrenheit while Behnken and Hurley, wearing SpaceX's white flight suits strapped inside the cabin, experienced 85 Fahrenheit.

Photo courtesy: NASA


Successful splashdown

On Sunday 2:48pm, the two NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley completed their 21-hour overnight journey aboard Crew Dragon "Endeavor", and had a successful landing in the calm waters of Gulf of Mexico.


Onto the GO Navigator

After the splashdown, the Dragon Endeavour was transferred from the Gulf of Mexico off the cost of Pensacola, Florida on the deck of the SpaceX recovery vessel “GO Navigator”. The NASA crew then fumigated the outer surface of the spacecraft to make sure no harmful fume was present before opening the hatch of the Endeavour.


Medically fit

After the process of fumigating was completed, the two astronauts were carried out on stretchers, which is a normal procedure, for their medical check-up.


No place like home

Soon after the medical check-up and the formalities were completed, the two astronauts were flown to Houton, Texas where met their families and addressed the nation.


'Thank you'

The two astronauts, who received morning messages from their sons, were filled with happiness and joy after their successful splashdown.

Upon safe splashdown, Mission Control from SpaceX headquarters thanked the astronauts saying, "“Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX."

As astronaut Behnken was being brought out of the spacecraft, Doug said, "To anybody who has touched Endeavour, you should take a moment to just cherish this day." 

"We're both super, super proud having been just a small part of the team that accomplished bringing those spaceflights back to the Florida coast and bringing that capability back to America," astronaut Behnken said.  

the astronauts also remembered their moments with 'legendary' astronauts at the International Space Station and thanked NASA and SpaceX for the opportunity became a historic journey after five years of training.


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