NASA spacemen Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely returned to Earth inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, bringing their memorable two-month mission at the International Space Station to a conclusion. The capsule carrying the two space-walkers landed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, where rescue boats were waiting nearby to collect the astronauts. Finally, the SpaceX Crew Dragon returns home successfully and opening the doors of research and exploration.
Called Demon-2 or DM-2, the mission was intended to determine out all of the Crew Dragon’s most consequential abilities — by reliably carrying people to space and taking them to the International Space Station (ISS).
With this successful landing, the Crew Dragon has now triumphantly achieved its first-ever passenger flight to orbit. The mission launched on May 30th.
SpaceX rescue boats loaded with teams of people hoisted the Crew Dragon out of the water. Then Behnken and Hurley left the capsule and inhale fresh air again. But the most dangerous part of the landing was impeccable, and that eventually paves the path for Crew Dragon to begin routinely sending astronauts to space in the future.
Their flight also efficiently returned NASA’s human spaceflight program back to the United States. Ever since the last flight of the Space Shuttle in 2011, NASA was dependent on Russia’s Soyuz rocket to get the agency’s spacemen to the space station.
It was the only choice that NASA had, and it was an expensive one. Each seat on the Soyuz ran NASA roughly $80 million. Now, NASA can send its astronauts to the space on the Crew Dragon, which takes off from Florida and costs about $55 million per seat.
To celebrate the arrival of US human spaceflight to American soil, Behnken and Hurley have brought back with them a very particular piece of baggage from the ISS: a small American flag. The flag has been on the space station for the last nine years, left there by the last Space Shuttle crew in 2011, which actually included Hurley.
The Shuttle crew demanded that the flag could be recovered only by the next crew of astronauts who launched from the US, starting possibly the most historic competition of Capture the Flag — with respect to time and distance. The flag has traveled more than 27 million miles during its time in orbit, according to NASA.