For the first time in 45 years, a space capsule parachuted back to earth. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule returned from the International Space Station on Sunday with astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken onboard. After their return, Behnken called it a wonderful mission and reflected on his space walks during the weeks-long stay on the ISS, and Hurley said the mission was a memory that would “last a lifetime” for him.
Earlier this year Hurley and Behnken became the first astronauts to launch into space from American soil since July 8, 2011, the date of the last Space Shuttle launch. The launch itself was delayed once due to bad weather, and there was some risk that the return of the American astronauts would have to be put on hold because of Hurricane Isaias. Luckily (for multiple reasons), the storm headed north up the East Coast of the United States and the crew was able to enjoy a perfect splashdown in the Gulf.
The only concern, and thank goodness it turned out well in the end, was the presence of dozens of civilian boats in the area of the splashdown. The Coast Guard expressed frustration at the situation but due to the sheer number of boats present as uninvited guests, as well as other factors, it could do little but hope for the best.
And congratulations to both astronauts and to SpaceX and NASA for a spectacular return to space for the USA.