Houston, United States:
SpaceX’s crewed capsule isn’t called Dragon for nothing.
The two NASA astronauts returned to Earth on Sunday said they felt inside the belly of a beast as it entered the atmosphere at 17,500 mph.
“He has come alive,” Mission Commander Bob Behnkhen said at a virtual press conference Tuesday in Houston, Texas.
The thrusters fired to keep the capsule, called “Endeavor,” pointed precisely at its target site off Pensacola, for the first water landing by an American spacecraft since 1975.
“The atmosphere starts to make noise, you can hear that rumble outside the vehicle and as the vehicle tries to control you feel a bit of that shaking in your body,” continued the 50-year-old.
“It doesn’t look like a machine, it looks like an animal going through the atmosphere with all these puffs going on from thrusters and atmospheric noise,” he added.
Not only was the descent deafening, but every time the ship went through descent sequences like dropping its “trunk” which contained the power system and parachute fire, it was also heartbreaking.
“Kind of like getting hit in the back of the chair with a baseball bat, you know, just a crack,” Behnken said, describing the sensation.
Behnken and his teammate Doug Hurley, 53, are best friends in real life and both are married to other astronauts.
They were aimed at journalists, as is tradition, two days after their return from a six-month stay on the International Space Station.
The success of the demonstration mission of SpaceX Crew Dragon, the first crewed U.S. spacecraft to reach orbit since the Space Shuttle era, means it will likely soon be certified for regular service.
The next mission is already scheduled for September.
“The mission went like the simulators, from start to finish, there really weren’t any surprises,” Hurley said.
Both men are veterans of the Space Shuttle program, which ended in 2011, and they had been training with SpaceX for five years.
Splash down at 15 miles per hour in the Gulf of Mexico seemed “pretty firm,” Hurley said, but it was expected.
One person who will particularly benefit from Behnken’s knowledge: astronaut Megan McArthur, who is due to make the same trip in the spring of 2021 on the same spacecraft, and is Behnken’s wife.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)