The SpaceX Dragon capsule with astronauts Behnken and Hurley aboard has completed its descent from space and into the Gulf of Mexico for a successful splashdown, completing this historic mission to and from the International Space Station.
On Saturday, May 30, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched Crew Dragon’s second demonstration (Demo-2) mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the next day Crew Dragon autonomously docked to the International Space Station.
This test flight with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board the Dragon spacecraft returned human spaceflight to the United States.
After a 63-day stay at the Space Station, Crew Dragon with the two NASA astronauts aboard the spacecraft autonomously undocked and departed from the orbiting laboratory at 7:35 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 1.
After jettisoning its trunk and re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, Dragon splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, on Sunday, August 2.
The Demo-2 mission is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.
The data will inform NASA’s certification of the SpaceX crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, which would occur following NASA certification.
A successful Commercial Crew Program could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Once the Demo-2 mission is complete, and the SpaceX and NASA teams have reviewed all the data for certification, NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi will fly on Dragon’s first six-month operational mission (Crew-1) targeted for late September.