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Astronauts describe an exciting flood of SpaceX





parachute with water body: 080420-splash.jpg


© NASA / Bill Ingles
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The launch back to Earth in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Sunday turned into a high-speed thrill, astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Benken announced on Tuesday. Fiery, impeccably controlled descent to spray started without delay ̵

1; a major step towards certification of the vehicle for operational flights.

“What a ride!” Benken tweeted, sharing footage of long-distance tracking of Crew Dragon’s dramatic descent.

The crew’s dragon scattered south of Pensacola, Florida, among dozens of boats, some of which were moving near the gently swaying capsule, despite earlier warnings from the Coast Guard to remain clear. The spacecraft, with Hurley and Benken still in place, was towed aboard a SpaceX recovery ship without incident.


FOLLOWS

FOLLOWS

This was the first water landing for astronauts or astronauts returning from orbit since the last Apollo capsule closed a joint flight with the Russian Soyuz spacecraft 45 years ago.

Benken and Hurley, veterans of two space shuttle flights each, said the ride down was perhaps more exciting than expected. Banken provided a description Tuesday during a virtual news conference at Johnson Space Center.



Robert L. Behnken et al.  sitting at a table in front of a TV: Robert Benken, left, and Douglas Hurley answer questions from reporters on the phone during a press conference two days after their historic return to Earth on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.  Credit: NASA


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Robert Benken, left, and Douglas Hurley answer telephone questions from reporters during a news conference two days after their historic return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Credit: NASA

“After we went down into the atmosphere a bit, the Dragon really came to life. He started firing and keeping us in the right direction. The atmosphere started making noise. You can hear that rumble outside the vehicle,” he said.

And while the vehicle is trying to control (its orientation), you feel a little bit of that vibration in your body, and our bodies were much better attuned to the environment (after two months in weightlessness) so that we can feel those little rolls and balls and yawns, ”he added.

“As we descended through the atmosphere, the throttles fired almost constantly … But that doesn’t sound like a machine,” Benken explained. “It sounds like an animal entering the atmosphere with all the fluff that comes from shocks and atmospheric noise. It just keeps getting bigger.”

When the stabilizing parachutes of the capsule drug unfolded, followed by four large main gutters, inflated, it felt “very much like a blow to the back of a chair with a baseball bat,” Benken said. “It was a pretty significant fever.”

“If you’ve seen an old movie that happened to have some guys who were in a centrifuge, that’s how we felt,” he said. “When the time came for it to fly … we felt the spray and saw it spray over the windows. It was just a great relief.”

They did not say if they were feeling any nausea before the gently boating spacecraft was restored and retreated to the recovery ship Go Navigator, something they mentioned before the launch as an opportunity.

Benken and Hurley had nothing but praise for SpaceX and NASA’s sales team program, thanks to SpaceX for the extensive training they also received for audio and video recordings from unmanned Crew Dragon a test flight last year that lets them know what to expect while traveling back to Earth.



Water Parachute: The crew dragon parachutes Sunday, just before unraveling in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola, Florida.  / Credit: NASA / Bill Ingles


© Provided by CBS News
The crew’s dragon parachuted on Sunday, moments before it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola, Florida. / Credit: NASA / Bill Ingles

“When it went as expected and we could check out these events, we were really very comfortable getting into the atmosphere, even though, you know, it felt like we were inside an animal,” Benken said.

Hurley and Benken were launches on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 30. The spacecraft made an automated meeting to catch up with the International Space Station, and after the astronauts tested the manual control system, they attached themselves to the lab complex using the same front port that was once housed in the space shuttles.

Crew Dragon astronauts were greeted aboard the commander of Expedition 63, Chris Cassidy, and two Russian astronauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner.

Over the next two months, Hurley and Benken assisted Cassidy with a complete list of U.S. research and partner agencies, recording 114 hours, conducting experiments that would not otherwise have been done with an American astronaut on board.

Behnken is also involved in four space runs with Cassidy to complete the installation of replacement batteries in the solar energy system of the station. Including six excursions during two previous shuttle missions, Behnken is now fourth on the list of the most experienced space infantry, with 61 hours and 10 minutes spent outside the station.

Hurley, who is piloting two shuttle missions, including the winger’s last flight to the space station in 2011, said he expects some surprises while hiring Crew Dragon.

“I expected there to be some divergence and attitude control because it’s a really difficult problem for the ship as it enters the thicker air to maintain perfect attitude and control,” he said. “And … the vehicle was solid.”

The Crew Dragon is the first US spacecraft to launch astronauts into orbit from US space since the last space shuttle flight in 2011. For the past nine years, NASA has relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts from the United States and the partner agency. to and from the station, paying more than $ 80 million on the spot under recent contracts.

The Draw Dragon and finally, Starliner CST-100 capsules from Boeing are designed to end their sole reliance on Russia while opening a low-Earth orbit for private sector development.



a man sitting on a motorcycle: Robert Benken, left, and spacecraft commander Douglas Hurley, greet crews for recovery moments after opening the hatch of their Crew Dragon capsule.  / Credit: NASA / Bill Ingles


© Provided by CBS News
Robert Benken, left, and spaceship commander Douglas Hurley congratulate the crews on recovering moments after opening the hatch of their Crew Dragon capsule. / Credit: NASA / Bill Ingles

SpaceX released and recovered an unmanned Crew Dragon capsule last year and performed a dramatic abortion in flight, again unmanned, earlier this year. This cleared the way for Hurley and Benken to blow up the program’s first pilot mission, a test flight known as Demo 2.

The spacecraft performed almost flawlessly during its first pilot mission, and if a detailed post-flight inspection confirms this, NASA officials hope to certify the spacecraft for operational missions to rotate the crew to and from the space station, starting this fall.

“They really need to look at the data from our entry,” Benken said. “They will do a very thorough review by both SpaceX and NASA to make sure they’re comfortable. But from the crew’s point of view, I think he’s definitely ready to go.”

This will be good news for Benken’s wife, astronaut Megan McArthur. She is one of four astronauts who planned to blow up the same Crew Dragon capsule that carried Behnken and Hurley back to Earth next year.

“My wife is on a mission at SpaceX, and we have a little son,” Benken said. “So I will definitely be focused on making sure that her mission is as successful as possible and supporting her just as she has for the last five years.”




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