The SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Aircraft carrying Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken, NASA astronauts completed a historic mission. The spacecraft marked the safe end of a two-month mission by splashing down into the Mexican Gulf on Sunday, August 2. The event will always be one of the most remarkable because it proves that the United States is the ruling leader of the world when it comes to human spaceflight.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft geared up all the engines and plunged safely back through the Earth’s thick atmosphere. It was on the afternoon of August 2, after which parachutes were released. Finally, the vehicle speed started decreasing to achieve the target landing off the Florida Coast. The mission to reach the International Space Station will always remain special. The primary reason is that this initiative or project marks the first one to launch from the United States in a decade. The last Space Shuttle Program operation took place back in 2011 before it shut down. The 201 mission was also the first-ever in the history of spaceflight that commercially developed was carrying human beings to Earth’s orbit.
There was a welcome ceremony for the astronauts who came back on August 2. The Mission Control thanked them for flying in the SpaceX. Both Behnken and Hurley faced the media for a press conference on the same day that they made a landing off the Florida Coast. After the arrival, there were shuttling helicopters to take them to the place where an Aeroplan was waiting.
SpaceX mission success makes Elon Musk emotional
The astronauts went straight to Houston, Texas, and finally met their families waiting eagerly for their safe arrival. NASA TV hosted the media event, and Hurley said that they could not stand. He then jokingly said that they would know that it is not a great feeling to stand for a few hours after you are back here for the ones who have the experience of traveling from space to home. On the other hand, Behnken took the opportunity to thank the leaders of the CCP or Commercial Crew Programs of NASA.
In the credit list was the senior program head Kathy Leuders. She has recently been promoted to lead the human spaceflight department of NASA. Behnken also thanked Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, who has come down personally to Houston to congratulate the astronauts. He said that it was beautiful watching Hurley and Behnken return to Earth from Mission SpaceX. The entire controlling was happening from Hawthorne, California. Musk became emotional during the event, saying that the mission’s success credit goes to NASA’s hard work and that of the SpaceX members. He was feeling nervous because the goal he had set was finally completed after 18 years. Yes, SpaceX has been functioning for the past 18 years. While they have sent many satellites to orbit the Earth, it was the first time for humans.
Expectations of a million people
The successful completion of NASA astronauts Behnken and Hurley’s mission marks the culmination of a decade-long partnership. It is the partnership between Elon Musk’s rocket company and the space agency that has been contentious on several occasions. NASA approached both Boeing and SpaceX back in 2014. The aim was to build vehicles that could transport astronauts from here to the International Space Station and back. The deal’s price was fixed at $4.2 billion for Boeing and $2.6 billion for SpaceX. Moreover, both the spacecraft were overdue for a long time now. However, SpaceX finally left Boeing behind when it comes to launching the spacecraft.
While millions of people were watching, the Crew Dragon of SpaceX got the flight clearance in May, and Hurley and Behnken were on board soon. The nickname of the spacecraft is the Dragon Endeavor. Both the astronauts spend about two months in the International Space Center before beginning a trip back home on Saturday, August 1. The return trip took a dramatic turn when they had to face the challenge of Mother Nature. While the eastern coast was gearing up for the Storm Isaias, the Gulf of Mexico was still calm. So, the astronauts finally decided shooting down and splashing into the waters near Pensacola.
The landing of the Crew Dragon capsule
According to Jim Bridenstine, Administrator at NASA, the herd of boats that could be seen around the Crew Dragon right after the splashdown were uninvited. It was the coast guard’s responsibility to keep a large part of the ocean clear for the landing to take place. However, as per Bridenstine’s observation, several boats together created a beeline for the Dragon Capsule. He also highlighted the fact that this was not the best finishing by NASA. Moreover, they will surely try to deploy more traffic control during the future projects and missions.
The boats’ encroachment on the recovery operation happened even before the Crew Dragon was detected of emitting minor amounts of nitrogen tetroxide or NTO. It is a potentially harmful fuel that is used in the rocket engines of the capsule that goes to specie. However, experts from NASA declared that the emerging fumes were not so harmful that they could affect any human beings. Still, there were concerns about why and how any private watercraft could gain such proximity to an intense astronaut recovery effort. According to the coast guard’s official statement, the Crew Dragon splashed in an area outside the legal patrolling authority.
Latest news of rival Boeing
On one hand, SpaceX is garnering all the attention after the successful completion of the mission. Boeing, on the other hand, is facing a crisis. It is experiencing a significant setback due to the recent malfunctioning of a Starliner capsule. The incident took place during a vital test flight where there was no crew present. Besides, NASA has throughout been supporting Boeing for a launchpad victory. However, SpaceX took over and created history by arranging a historic launch of the Crew Dragon capsule.