Graphic shows how the DM-2 Dragon spacecraft safely returned its two passengers to Earth.
GN40411

SPACE

How the SpaceX test fight returned to Earth

By Ninian Carter

August 1, 2020 - August 2, 2020 - The first manned SpaceX Dragon capsule made a text book splash down on August 2, in the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Florida's Pensacola. The successful outcome is set to spawn a new era for American space travel.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken returned from the International Space Station (ISS) on August 2, completing the first crewed test flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon transportation system.

Their lift-off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 marked the first time NASA astronauts have launched into orbit from U.S. soil since the final space shuttle flight took off in 2011. In the interim, NASA has hitched rides to orbit with Russia. The New York Times notes that SpaceX is now the first private business to take people to orbit. Previously the feat had only been accomplished by nations.

The first part of the test – lift-off and the docking of the capsule, named Endeavour, with the ISS – proceeded flawlessly. The second phase involved undocking, de-orbit, re-entry, parachute-assisted splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico and the recovery of the crew and capsule.

NASA will use data from this flight to certify that the Crew Dragon is ready for routine flights to the ISS. The next Crew Dragon mission, and the first operational one, is to carry four astronauts: three from NASA and one from JAXA – the Japanese space agency.

PUBLISHED: 02/08/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Earth 3D
Graphic News Standards