Fresh off a 64-day test flight to the International Space Station with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, SpaceX’s first human-rated Crew Dragon spaceship is back at Cape Canaveral for inspections, refurbishment and upgrades before flying to the station again with a four-person crew next spring.
Two days after becoming the first U.S. space fliers to splash down in the sea in more than 45 years, astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on Tuesday described their fiery ride back to Earth aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to cap a “flawless” test flight, setting the stage for operational flights beginning later this year.
Returning home after a 64-day test flight, astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken blazed through Earth’s atmosphere and parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Sunday, a final major step before NASA formally certifies the crew capsule for operational missions to the International Space Station.
Crew Dragon astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken thanked their space station crewmates for a productive two-month visit, readied their SpaceX capsule for departure and stood by for a final “go” from flight controllers to undock Saturday night, setting up a Gulf of Mexico splashdown Sunday afternoon.
Members of NASA’s independent panel of aerospace safety advisors raised concerns last week about quality control problems that “seemingly have plagued” Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule program, while urging NASA to closely monitor SpaceX’s plans to reuse Crew Dragon spaceships on astronaut flights to the International Space Station.
Space station commander Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken floated back outside Tuesday for their fourth spacewalk in less than a month, completing preparations for future upgrades including the eventual installation of an airlock that will allow commercial experiments to be moved into and out of vacuum as required.