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First landing in the sea for the United States in 45 years

On Sunday, the SpaceX spacecraft Crew Dragon landed in the Gulf of Mexico with two astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely protected inside. They have been on the ISS space station for 63 days, and the trip is the first time American astronauts have landed in the sea in 45 years, and the first time they have been sent up with American material since the space shuttle was retired in 2011.

This is what it looked like when they landed:

Successful trip
Both NASA astronauts must have felt good when they landed. Shortly after the water landing, the so-called splashdown, Hurley is said to have asked SpaceX employees to pass on to the health personnel who were on their way to them in boats that they were «quite well so far».

The two astronauts had been on board the «Dragon Endeavor» since Saturday night, when they disconnected from the space station ISS. During the journey towards the earth, the lower part was shot away, to bring out the heat shield that covers the entire underside of the vessel. Then two different sets of parachutes were released at different times, to bring them safely into the water.

Prior to the landing, there had been some unrest around the weather conditions at the landing area, as a new hurricane is on its way to Florida these days. Isaiah, as the hurricane is called, however, kept his distance in time for the landing to be painless.

The Verge writes that although the landing was successful, there was some drama on the sea around the landing area before Dragon Endeavor made its entrance. Because it was not only SpaceX that was ready with boats when Dragon Endeavor hit the water. Dozens of boats surrounded the landing area, several privately owned, and created some chaos in the moments before landing.

This should not have been planned, and NASA chief Jim Bridenstine admits in a press conference afterwards that they will prepare even better next time:

  • There were many boats out there, and they were obviously interested in what happened. I think the whole United States was excited to see the craft land in the water. But yes, this is something we need to do better next time.