SpaceX Crew Dragon makes historic splashdown off Florida

The SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft carrying two NASA astronauts parachuted to a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida on Sunday, completing a two-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The spacecraft splashed down off the coast of Pensacola, Florida at 2:48 p.m. EDT (1848 GMT) Sunday.

The weather conditions appeared “great” for the parachute splashdown, tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The SpaceX recovery vessel GO Navigator was waiting at the landing zone. The recovery teams reached the SpaceX Dragon capsule and gathered the parachutes in the water.

SpaceX engineers did a purge of vapor fumes around the Dragon Endeavour to ensure the safety of the crew when they open the hatch.

The spacecraft hatch was later opened. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were safely brought out of the capsule.

The return began at 7:35 p.m. EDT Saturday, when the Crew Dragon spacecraft autonomously undocked from the ISS Harmony module.

After an approximately 19-hour return journey, the spacecraft began deorbit burn at 1:56 p.m. EDT Sunday, and deployed four main parachutes.

The return of the test flight with the two astronauts from the ISS marks the first splashdown of an American crew spacecraft in 45 years, said NASA.

It also wrapped up the test flight for the first commercially owned and operated crewed spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Astronauts Behnken and Hurley took off from U.S. soil on May 30, riding aboard Crew Dragon spacecraft in a historic test flight to the ISS.

The mission, dubbed Demo-2, is the first crewed launch to orbit from U.S. soil since NASA’s shuttle program ended in 2011, and also the first-ever manned space launch by a private company, ushering in a new era of U.S. space exploration. 

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