American Astronauts Complete Final Human Spaceflight Test for Crew Dragon 2

Space Coast, FL – Yesterday at 1647 EDT (2047 UTC) american astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, splashed down off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. This marks the first time in 45+ years an american has splashed down. The last planned ocean landing for U.S. human spaceflight was July 24, 1975, on an Apollo capsule.

Undocking

The undocking of Dragonship Endeavour commenced at 1947 EDT from the International Space Station (ISS). They then proceeded their long decent back to earth, first performing 4 departure burns to move away from the ISS. Dragon then preformed a series of orbit-lowering maneuvers that line up its ground track with the desired landing location.

Dragon Endeavor undocking from ISS | image: NASA TV

All while Bob and Doug had a scheduled snooze time. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is mostly autonomous, which is awesome!

Soon after Bob and Doug’s sleep a few more steps needed to happen before splashdown. The trunk jettison, the final deorbit burn, the capping nose cone and re-entry.

Bob and Doug do final checks on systems and confirm with SpaceX/NASA | image: SpaceX

Trunk Jettison to Re-entry

The flight computer jettisons the trunk from dragon in order reduce mass, save on propellant and expose the heat-shield. This happens prior to the de-orbit burn.

Some had asked “Why is the nose cone open for so long?” well, the tip or top of the dragon spacecraft has 4 Draco engines (16 total on the spacecraft) and is needed to remain open in order to preform the phase burns.

The final deorbit burn is then conducted, lasting ~12 minutes. The nose cone closes and all is completed for a line up to the splashdown area.

Re-entry

When dragon hits the atmosphere it experiences up to ~3,500°F while inside the heatshield doesn’t let the temperature rise aboce ~85°F. There is a ~6 minute black out of comm and telemetry. However on this mission things were ahead of schedule, which was quite amazing in itself. Bob and Doug have made an amazing spaceflight test into a historical one.

Dragon Endeavour carrying Bob and Doug Splashdown, Aug 2, 2020 at 1447 EDT | image: NASA/Bill Ingalls

We had an amazing 24 hours keeping up with all news, updates and live streams. This was one not to miss, since we started following SpaceX’s race for launching American rockets, with American Astronauts from American soil we felt the feels. This spaceflight test concludes SpaceX’s test(s) for having Crew Dragon certified for human spaceflight. For the next ~few weeks Dragon Endeavour’s data will be analyzed for certification. This Dragon is also slated to be reused for Crew-2 as well.

Following this journey since DM-1 has been an amazing experience and we can’t wait to see what SpaceX does next. As well as Crew-1 and Crew-2 coming in the following months.

Welcome back to Earth, Bob and Doug!

Bob and Doug minutes before exiting Dragon Endeavour | image: SpaceX

If you missed the event on our facebook or the live stream you may watch it here DM-2 return.

Like our content? Give us a follow on our social media channels and check out our new Patreon Page with rewards.

Jon Van Horne
Jon Van Horne

He began his career in media as a multimedia designer and developer in Montreal, Quebec. He developed a passion for media during his job in Photography and Video at a Montreal media content company. Other passions in media, photography/videography and soon going back to school in engineering.