Bob Behnken

NASA astronauts splash down in SpaceX capsule as historic mission returns to Earth

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Sunday, ending a historic two-month trip to space. The mission marked the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. After deploying two drogue parachutes and then the capsule’s main parachutes, the spacecraft landed off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The spacecraft, named “Endeavour” by the astronauts, left the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. Hurley and Behnken, both veterans of Space Shuttle missions, had boarded the orbiting space lab May 31 following the eagerly-anticipated launch of the Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. With wind at 2 knots, weather conditions for the capsule’s return to Earth were ideal. The capsule was hoisted aboard the SpaceX recovery ship Go Navigator and its hatch was opened at 3:59 p.m. EDT. Behnken was the first to exit the capsule, giving a thumbs up to the recovery team. Hurley followed shortly after, also giving a thumbs up. “Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission. Thank you to all!,” tweeted President Donald Trump. “Astronauts complete first splashdown in 45 years. Very exciting!” Trump tweeted. “It was an honor to witness history as @NASA and @SpaceX launched American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil to the @Space_Station in May. Today, we welcome home @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug! On behalf of a grateful Nation, thank you!” tweeted Vice President Mike Pence, who is chair of the National Space Council. “We have SPLASHDOWN! Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug!” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on May 30 amid a blaze of publicity. Previously known as capsule 206, the spacecraft was renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. The mission is an important milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew program.

If you missed this historic moment, click on the text above.  Congrats to Bob, Doug, SpaceX, and NASA for this incredible feat!  Awesome!!     🙂

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken prepare for historic return to Earth in SpaceX capsule

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are making preparations for their historic return to Earth Sunday. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, named “Endeavour” by the astronauts, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday and make its splashdown off the coast of Florida the following day. The astronauts have spent two months on the orbiting space lab. “Weather permitting, NASA and SpaceX are targeting 2:42 p.m. EDT Sunday, Aug. 2, for the splashdown and conclusion of the Demo-2 test flight mission,” said NASA, in a statement. “With this test flight, NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry are marking the first successful launch of a crew to the space station on a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft, and a safe return to Earth for that spacecraft and crew.” During a press conference on the International Space Station Friday Hurley explained how the Dragon capsule will be recovered following splashdown. “There will be a couple of what we call ‘fast boats’ will come up to the capsule at that point and make sure that everything is safe on the outside of the capsule for it to be hoisted on board the recovery ship,” he said. “At that point, the recovery ship is moving in and in communications with the fast boats … once everybody gives the thumbs up that we are ready to be hoisted aboard it will get lifted aboard by a crane and cradled on board the aft portion of the ship.” “At that point, once it’s secure on the back deck of the ship, then they can open the hatch and it will be time for us to come out,” Hurley added. Undocking from the International Space Station is scheduled for 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday. “Teams will continue to closely monitor Tropical Storm Isaias and evaluate impacts to weather around the Florida peninsula, including the potential splashdown sites in the Gulf of Mexico and along the state’s Atlantic coast,” said NASA, in a statement. “NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on a primary splashdown target approximately 6 hours before undocking Saturday.” Hurley and Behnken, both veterans of Space Shuttle missions, boarded the orbiting space lab May 31 following the eagerly-anticipated launch of the Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch marked the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on May 30 amid a blaze of publicity. Previously known as capsule 206, the spacecraft was renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. “Today was just an amazing day,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said shortly after the launch. “I can breathe a sigh of relief but I can also tell you that I’m not going to celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely.” The mission is an important milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew program. “This is SpaceX’s final test flight in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, landing, and crew return operations,” said NASA in the statement.

Exciting!!   For more from NASA, click on the text above.     🙂

SpaceX makes history, launches NASA astronauts into space from US soil for the first time since 2011

SpaceX has launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on their historic Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. Hurley and Behnken blasted off from Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs, at 3:22 p.m. ET Saturday. An attempt on Wednesday was scrubbed due to weather conditions. The launch is the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. There were concerns that bad weather would force Saturday’s launch to be scrubbed, but the mission was able to proceed as planned. President Trump and Vice President Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, watched the launch from Kennedy Space Center. Speaking at Kennedy Space Center following the launch, Trump praised America’s “bold and triumphant return to the stars.” “With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over,” he said. The names of Hurley and Behnken, he added, will stand in the history books alongside the likes of Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gus Grissom. “We have liftoff! Congratulations @Astro_Doug, @AstroBehnken, @NASA and @SpaceX!” tweeted Pence. Launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Hurley and Behnken are traveling to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon spacecraft built by the space company. After a short journey into orbit, Crew Dragon began its 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. Autonomous docking with the International Space Station is expected at 10:29 a.m. EDT on Sunday. The duration of the astronauts’ stay on the orbiting space lab is yet to be determined. After separation, the Falcon 9 booster successfully returned to Earth, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. “Today was just an amazing day,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said shortly after the launch. “I can breathe a sigh of relief but I can also tell you that I’m not going to celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely.” Bridenstine said he was praying for the astronauts during the liftoff. “I have heard that rumble [of a rocket launch] before, but it’s a whole different feeling when you’ve got your own team on that rocket.” Under normal circumstances, large crowds would have been expected to witness the historic launch but, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA urged people to stay away. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA recently agreed to pay Russian space agency Roscosmos $90 million for one final seat on one of its Soyuz rockets.

Hopefully that’s the last time we pay the Russians, a major strategic  adversary, $90 MILLION to hitch a ride.  If you missed today’s launch, the Google it, or click on the text above for a couple videos.  It was beyond awesome!  Our congrats to both NASA and SpaceX for this historic launch!  And, our prayer are with Doug and Bob.  Go SpaceX!!    🙂