SpaceX’s groundbreaking Demo 2 mission ended on Sunday, August 2, when the crew sprayed Dragon capsule with two NASA astronauts after a two-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS) in the Gulf of Mexico.
The mission was special for many reasons. It was the first launch and first landing of astronauts in the United States since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, and it was the first time that NASA had used a commercially built and operated spacecraft by the American crew. It was also the first time that SpaceX put astronauts in his Crew Dragon capsule, which took the company another step towards his dream of building a fully reusable space transportation system for missions to the moon, Mars and beyond. And it was the first NASA splashdown since 1
Here we used a collection of photos from the historic mission to tell their story.
Ready to launch: The Crew Dragon (below) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the launch field in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 26, 2020. The launch was originally scheduled for May 27, but was postponed to May 30 due to unexplained weather .
The astronauts: Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley at the launch and landing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center prior to SpaceX’s demo 2 mission.
Bob (left) and Doug sit in their seats on the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Take off: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 goes to heaven with Bob and Doug on board.
See you later: Doug’s wife, retired NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, and her son watch the rocket soar at the start of their journey to the space station.
High-speed travel: Two minutes after take-off, the rocket is traveling at 3,700 km / h.
Perfect landing: Nine minutes later, the booster of the first stage of the Falcon 9 returns to Earth and lands perfectly on a SpaceX drone ship. Here it goes back to landing before its next flight (it will have to be a bit clean first).
Arrival: The Crew Dragon is cautiously approaching the space station as it prepares to dock.
Docked: The Crew Dragon docks at the International Space Station. It is actually the second visit of the spacecraft to the rotating outpost – the first time in 2019 was a test run without crew.
Come on in: Current ISS crew members Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner welcome Bob aboard the space station.
Here’s the other guy: Hurley follows close behind.
Group photo: The crew of Expedition 63 of the space station. From top left: Anatoly, Chris, Ivan, Bob and Doug.
Long way down: The very special view that Bob and Doug and the rest of the crew enjoy.
Spacewalk: Bob (left) and Chris undertook four so-called “extravehicular activities” during Expedition 63. One of the trips was the 300th spacewalk with American astronauts.
Space work: Bob, Doug and Chris are working on setting up the RiTS (Robotic Tool Stowage) unit that arrived at the station in 2019. The device will serve as a protective storage unit for critical robot tools.
Interviews: In addition to maintenance, scientific research and crew dragon testing, Bob and Doug also participated in numerous events with media and students around the world.
Aerial Photography: Doug spent part of his time publishing stunning photos of the Earth as part of the Crew Earth Observations study. This shows the Bahamas, which the astronaut described as “absolutely one of the most beautiful sights on earth from space”.
Vortex over Spain: Bob took this with a cloud formation that winds in the Balearic Islands between Valencia, Spain and the Spanish island of Ibiza.
Expandable space: Bob is exploring the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which was connected to the station’s tranquility module in 2016. BEAM started as a technology demonstration to test an experimental expandable capsule that was inflated to create an area large enough for an astronaut.
Happy 50th: Bob celebrated half a century on the space station with someone tapping a couple of cakes to make sure he didn’t forget his age.
Return trip: After 64 days in space it is time to return to Terra Firma. Here we see Bob and Doug in Crew Dragon again as they prepare to leave the space station on August 1, 2020.
Splashdown: The next day, the Crew Dragon comes down in the Gulf of Mexico. The picture shows a rescue team dispatched from the larger rescue ship GO Voyager and approaching the capsule.
Curious: Private boats are approaching the Crew Dragon as he swings up and down in the sea with Bob and Doug.
Dry dock: After the salvage team has checked that Bob and Doug are okay, the capsule is brought onto the GO Voyager ship with the astronauts still inside.
Thumbs up: The hatch opens and Bob and Doug both smile at the camera. A short time later, the two were flown to the mainland for health checks.
Back to the base: In the meantime, the Crew Dragon will be brought back for inspection and maintenance in SpaceX’s “Dragon Lair” in Florida. If everything is OK, the same capsule will fly four more astronauts on another mission to the ISS next month.
Elon’s Joy: A small event is held five hours after the hosing to welcome Bob and Doug home. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX – the billionaire who founded SpaceX 18 years ago with the ultimate goal of creating a reusable space transportation system – said the successful Demo 2 mission was “a new era in space exploration” and added: ” We go To go to the moon, we will have a base on the moon, we will send people to Mars and make life multi-planetary. NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said, “You just can’t put your finger on how important it is [mission] was for our country to have access to space again from our own soil. “
And finally: Bob and Doug say a few words about the historic mission before taking a well-deserved break. “To be with the crew on Dragon’s first flight where we are now is just incredible,” said Doug. Bob acknowledged the performance of SpaceX and NASA and said, “We are both very proud to have been just a small part of the team that managed to bring these space flights back to the Florida coast and that ability back to America.”