Science | August 3, 2020 6:00 am

NASA Astronauts Return to Earth Safely on Crew Dragon

Another milestone achieved for NASA and SpaceX

Crew Dragon retrieval
Crew Dragon is retrieved.

What seems to be the next phase of American space exploration reached another milestone on Sunday. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which safely conveyed 2 NASA astronauts to the International Space Station earlier this year, safely returned them to Earth — a landmark achievement for both NASA and SpaceX.

Writing at The Verge, Loren Grush has more details on the landing. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley landed in the Golf of Mexico near Pensacola, Florida on Sunday afternoon. This marked the completion of a successful mission: conveying passengers into orbit, docking with the ISS and then bringing them safely home.

The Verge’s article notes that Crew Dragon will be back in action later this year: it’s slated to make another trip into space in September and will follow that up with a third voyage in the spring of next year.

NASA’s official announcement of the splashdown noted its historic significance as well:

Behnken and Hurley’s return was the first splashdown for American astronauts since Thomas Stafford, Vance Brand, and Donald “Deke” Slayton landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii on July 24, 1975, at the end of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell spoke highly of the mission. “We could not be more proud to see Bob and Doug safely back home — we all appreciate their dedication to this mission and helping us start the journey towards carrying people regularly to low Earth orbit and on to the Moon and Mars. And I really hope they enjoyed the ride!” Shotwell said.

A news conference on the mission is set for Tuesday, August 4th at 4:30 pm.

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