SPLASHDOWN: CREW DRAGON WITH NASA ASTRONAUTS RETURNS TO EARTH

Two US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley who were aboard the SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon returned to Earth safely on 2nd August (Sunday).

Bringing an end to their historic 64-day test flight, the spacecraft parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico just south of Florida’s Gulf coast at 2:48 PM EDT. Recovery boats waited nearby to receive the crew and hoist the capsule out of water. Crew Dragon had undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) at 7:35 PM EDT on 1st August (Saturday).

As the crew arrived home Hurley said, “it’s truly our honor and privilege”. SpaceX’s mission control thanked in return and said “On behalf of the SpaceX and Nasa teams, welcome back to Planet Earth. Thanks for flying SpaceX”.

Crew Dragon has completed its first passenger flight to orbit and proved its capability of transporting people to ISS safely. The riskiest part of the landing being done successfully, now Crew Dragon further proves that the capsule can bring people home too. The final tests for the capsule now successfully completed, this splashdown could possibly be a turning point in the realm of space exploration as it opens up more avenues for safe transportation of not only space crews but also probable space tourists.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX welcomed Hurley and Behnken and said “I do think what this heralds really is fundamentally a new era in spaceflight, a new era in space exploration” in Houston. He further remarked “We’re going to go to the moon. We’re going to have a base on the moon. We’re going to send people to Mars and make life multi-planetary”.

CREW DRAGON

Image Sources: www.businessinsider.in

The return of astronauts is, nevertheless, a milestone to remember in NASA’s commercial crew program that aims at encouraging partnerships with U.S. companies. With a successful splashdown, the space agency is soon to formally certify Crew Dragon spacecraft for regular carrying astronauts to and from ISS. This allows NASA to end its dependency on Russia’s Soyuz rocket for the transportation of astronauts.

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Both the Astronauts boarded a Crew Dragon capsule built and run by a private rocket company started by Elon Musk named SpaceX. They launched from the Kennedy Space Centre on 30th May 2020, riding a Falcon 9 rocket into the orbit. This is the first time since 2011 that a crew has rocketed into the orbit from American soil.

To commemorate this, Behnken and Hurley brought back a small American flag from the ISS. It was left there by the last Space Shuttle crew in 2011 and stayed there for nine years. According to NASA, during its time in orbit, the flag has happened to have traveled more than 27 million miles.


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