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NASA Astronauts To Make Splashdown Landing In Gulf Of Mexico This Afternoon

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NASA astronauts aim for Florida coast to end SpaceX flight

It will be the first splashdown for astronauts in 45 years

By Marcia Dunn | Associated Pres

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The first astronauts launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company departed the International Space Station on Saturday night for the final and most important part of their test flight: returning to Earth with a rare splashdown.

NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken bid farewell to the three men left behind as their SpaceX Dragon capsule undocked and headed toward a Sunday afternoon descent by parachute into the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite Tropical Storm Isaias’ surge toward Florida’s Atlantic shore, NASA said the weather looked favorable off the coast of Pensacola on the extreme opposite side of the state.

NASA ANNOUNCES ASTRONAUTS FOR SECOND SPACEX CREW DRAGON FLIGHT TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

It will be the first splashdown for astronauts in 45 years. The last time was following the joint U.S.-Soviet mission in 1975 known as Apollo-Soyuz.

In this image from video made available by NASA, astronauts Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken prepare for undocking from the International Space Station, aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. (NASA via AP)

In this image from video made available by NASA, astronauts Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken prepare for undocking from the International Space Station, aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. (NASA via AP)

Space station commander Chris Cassidy rang the ship's bell as Dragon pulled away, 267 miles (430 kilometers) above Johannesburg, South Africa. Within a few minutes, all that could be seen of the capsule was a pair of flashing lights against the black void of space.

"It's been a great two months, and we appreciate all you've done as a crew to help us prove out Dragon on its maiden flight,” Hurley radioed to the space station.

“Safe travels," Cassidy replied, “and have a successful landing."

The astronauts' homecoming will cap a mission that ended a prolonged launch drought in the U.S., which has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the end of the shuttle era.

In launching Hurley and Behnken from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 30, SpaceX became the first private company to send people into orbit. Now SpaceX is on the verge of becoming the first company to bring people back from orbit.

“The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important is bringing us home,” Behnken said several hours before strapping into the Dragon.

A successful splashdown, Behnken said, will bring U.S.-crew launching capability “full circle.”

At a farewell ceremony earlier in the day, Cassidy, who will remain on board with two Russians until October, presented Hurley with the small U.S. flag left behind by the previous astronauts to launch to the space station from U.S. soil. Hurley was the pilot of that final shuttle mission in July 2011.

The flag — which also flew on the first shuttle flight in 1981 — became a prize for the company that launched astronauts first

SpaceX easily beat Boeing, which isn't expected to launch its first crew until next year and will land in the U.S. Southwest. The flag has one more flight after this one: to the moon on NASA’s Artemis program in the next few years.

“We’re a little sad to see them go," Cassidy said, “but very excited for what it means to our international space program to add this capability” of commercial crew capsules. The next SpaceX crew flight is targeted for the end of September.

Hurley and Behnken also are bringing back a sparkly blue and purple dinosaur named Tremor. Their young sons chose the toy to accompany their fathers on the historic mission.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               SEE VIDEO REPORT    ;     https://www.foxnews.com/science/nasa-astronauts-aim-for-florida-coast-to-end-spacex-flight

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Last Update 11 hours ago

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

The spacecraft landed off the coast of Pensacola, Florida

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.placeholder

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.

NASA ASTRONAUTS DOUG HURLEY AND BOB BEHNKEN PREPARE FOR HISTORIC RETURN TO EARTH IN SPACEX CAPSULE

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.

In this frame grab from NASA TV, the SpaceX capsule splashes down Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020 in the Gulf of Mexico.

In this frame grab from NASA TV, the SpaceX capsule splashes down Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020 in the Gulf of Mexico. (NASA TV via AP)

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.

NASA ASTRONAUTS BOARD INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION IN HISTORIC SPACEX MISSION

"Astronauts complete first splashdown in 45 years. Very exciting!" Trump tweeted.

 

The capsule being lifted onto the SpaceX recovery ship Go Navigator. (NASA TV)

The capsule being lifted onto the SpaceX recovery ship Go Navigator. (NASA TV)

"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 capsule with its four main parachutes open.

The capsule with its four main parachutes open. (NASA TV)

The mission is an important milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew program.                                                                                                                                      SEE VIDEO    ;     https://www.foxnews.com/science/nasa-astronauts-splashdown-spacex-capsule

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