Daily Management Review

‘It Came Alive’ Moments Before SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Landed On Earth


SpaceX’s first human passengers returned on earth safely following their over two months’ long space journey.

NASA had sent the first crew on a “privately built vehicle into orbit”, whereby two U.S. astronauts, Bob Behnken aged 50 and Doug Hurley aged 53, have just returned home on completion of the “landmark mission”. Reuters reported their “loud, jarring ride” through the atmosphere of the Earth before they made a safe landing on the sea.
Last Sunday, the scientists made their safe journey home in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s shores putting an end to the “first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years”. During a press conference, in their “first extensive public remarks” post the duo reached home, they talked about the final tense moments at the end of their sixty four days journey.
The scientists were aboard the “Crew Dragon” vehicle which was built by SpaceX in the shape of an acorn. The said vehicle took these two passengers to the “International Space Station” and then “rocket thrusters” was fired to slow its speed during the descent into the earth’s atmosphere. The scientists recounted the experience during the twelve minutes of thruster burn. In the words of Behnken:
“It came alive. It doesn’t sound like a machine, it sounds like an animal coming through the atmosphere.”
Furthermore, Reuters reported:
“As the capsule streaked deeper through the sky, atmospheric friction scorched the protective heat shield of the plunging Crew Dragon to 3,500 Fahrenheit (1,927 Celsius), slowing its rate of descent to 350 mph (563 kph)”.
By this time “first of two sets of parachutes” kicked in which added to the further speed reduction in an abrupt manner, as Behnken described the moment saying it “very much like getting hit in the back of the chair with a baseball bat”.
While, he added:
“It was a pretty significant jolt”.
As the second set of parachutes were deployed, the capsule slowed down to a “a gentle 15-mph rate of descent” before the splash-down and in Hurley recalls the final moment as the apt end to a “flawless” mission. Within minutes of their touch down, the SpaceX dispatched its recovery teams and got the capsule into a boat. Following the rescue, both scientists were taken by helicopter to the shore where they boarded a “private flight to Houston”.
Both the scientists took off on their journey on May 31, 2020 from the International Space Station of Florida. The duration of the journey, as mentioned earlier, were over two months, while purpose of the journey was to examine the safety of the “Crew Dragon capsule” for “transporting humans to and from space”.
As the scientists floated in the water before the recovery team reached them, as part of a test objective, they made “prank satellite phone calls” to “whoever” they could “get a hold of”. However, explained Hurley, that there “was a real reason for it” which was to ensure that they were able to establish contacts with “mission control using a sat-phone in case the crew landed from space in an unexpected part of the ocean”.