NASA Astronauts Splash Down Off the West Coast of Florida

Behnken and Hurley on their way back to down to earth

On Sunday, August 2, two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, returned from the International Space Station. They landed safely in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Following recovery by SpaceX, the two astronauts were sent back to Houston. This return is historic as it is the first recovery of American astronauts since 1975 for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.
Behnken and Hurley launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 in a Crew Dragon spacecraft. They named it the “Endeavour” in tribute to the original Endeavour space shuttle. They docked with the ISS’s Harmony module on May 31. The two spent 64 days in orbit and traveled about 27,147,284 statute miles. They helped conduct laboratory investigations such as the “Droplet Formation Study inside of the Microgravity Science Glovebox” and “Capillary Structures” investigations and the “Electrolysis Measurement” experiment. They also took photographs of Earth as part of the “Crew Earth Observations” which records how Earth is changing from human development or natural disasters. The two also performed routine maintenance, which included Behnken doing four spacewalks for a total of 61 hours and 10 minutes.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aims to work with commercial aerospace companies to launch U.S. astronauts on American-made spacecraft from American soil. Ever since the space shuttle program was terminated, the U.S. has fallen behind in the “space race”. NASA and SpaceX hope these flights will help improve spacecraft technology and safety. Eventually, they hope to reach the Moon again and someday Mars.