"Welcome back to planet Earth. Thanks for flying SpaceX."
After undocking with the International Space Station Saturday yesterday evening, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley began their thrill ride of a return journey inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.
"Thanks for flying @SpaceX."
📍 Current Location: Planet Earth
— NASA (@NASA) August 2, 2020
Roughly 19 hours later, the pair splashed down effortlessly in the Atlantic at exactly 2:48 pm EDT off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
“Welcome back to planet Earth,” the SpaceX ground team told Behnken and Hurley over the radio. “Thanks for flying SpaceX.”
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) August 2, 2020
The ocean was calm, with one foot waves and a breezy two knot wind — perfect conditions for a splashdown.
Their descent was slowed by two primary parachutes and four massive main parachutes, colored in an iconic red and white pattern, as seen during SpaceX and NASA’s Demo-1 mission in April 2019.
Dragon will travel from south of New Zealand to Florida in ~37 minutes
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 2, 2020
It’s only the second time a Crew Dragon capsule has made it back down from space — and the first time with a human crew on board.
The pair managed to successfully dock to the International Space Station on May 31 after launching from historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida a day prior. The mission marked the first time a for-profit group has successfully launched human astronauts into orbit inside a commercial spacecraft.
The Demo-2 mission will help NASA certify SpaceX’s futuristic astronaut shuttle for regular flights. The agency has already picked two crews of four astronauts for the upcoming SpaceX Dragon flights dubbed Crew-1 and Crew-2. The flights are currently scheduled for late September and early spring 2021 respectively.
More on Crew-1 and Crew-2: NASA Announces Crew For Upcoming SpaceX Mission