NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken give Q&A after splashdown in SpaceX Crew Dragon

Over 48 hours ago NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico inside SpaceX Dragon capsule and today the pair conducted a live Q&A.

The duo took a number questions about the splashdown experience, their first meal and revealed if their long-standing friendship lasted while on the International Space Station.

Once deorbit began, Behnken described seeing white clouds rushing by the window and heard the capsule pushing through the atmosphere, which he likened to that of an animal noise.

The pair dined on pizza when they were whisked away to NASA headquarters in Houston and Hurley happily shared that he and Behken are still close friends.

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Over 48 hours ago NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico inside SpaceX Dragon capsule and today the pair conducted a live Q&A

‘Flying Crew Dragon we didn’t have to say anything at time. It was telepathy between us,’ Hurley said.

‘I know that doesn’t always go into the selection process, but when we were selected to fly it gave us a distinct advantage over other crews.’

The astronauts took off from Cape Canaveral on May 30 and embarked on a two-month stay on the International Space Station.

The mission came to a close when the two splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, officially marking the return of spaceflight to American soil.

The pair dined on pizza when they were whisked away to NASA headquarters in Houston and Hurley happily shared that he and Behken are still close friends

The pair dined on pizza when they were whisked away to NASA headquarters in Houston and Hurley happily shared that he and Behken are still close friends

Once deorbit began, Behnken described seeing white clouds rushing by the window and heard the capsule pushing through the atmosphere, which he likened to that of an animal noise

Once deorbit began, Behnken described seeing white clouds rushing by the window and heard the capsule pushing through the atmosphere, which he likened to that of an animal noise

The press conference, held Tuesday, gave the spacefairing heroes an opportunity to share their once in a lifetime experience with the world.

Most importantly, they shared in detail the exciting return home.

Behnken described the deorbit as going smoothly, saying it was everything he and HUrley had expected.

‘As we descended through the atmosphere, I was surprised at how quickly all the events transpired,’ he said.

‘We didn’t have time to focus on the Earth for a long period of time, but we had a good feeling about how quickly it was moving.’

He continued to explain that his and Hurley’s bodies became attuned with the environment.

‘I recorded audio while we moved through the atmosphere and it doesn’t sound like a machine,’ Behnken said.

‘It sounds like an animal coming through the atmosphere.’

The sequenced toy, named Tremor, was first spotted in the capsule when the pair took off in May and quickly became a star. Both Hurley and Behnken have boys who are interested in dinosaurs, so both families collected all the dinosaurs in their homes and the children decided which one could make the trip to the ISS

The sequenced toy, named Tremor, was first spotted in the capsule when the pair took off in May and quickly became a star. Both Hurley and Behnken have boys who are interested in dinosaurs, so both families collected all the dinosaurs in their homes and the children decided which one could make the trip to the ISS

The astronauts took off from Cape Canaveral on May 30 and embarked on a two-month stay on the International Space Station. The mission came to a close when the two splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, officially marking the return of spaceflight to American soil

The astronauts took off from Cape Canaveral on May 30 and embarked on a two-month stay on the International Space Station. The mission came to a close when the two splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, officially marking the return of spaceflight to American soil

One popular character from the mission was also discussed – a plush dinosaur.

The sequenced toy, named Tremor, was first spotted in the capsule when the pair took off in May and quickly became a star. 

Both Hurley and Behnken have boys who are interested in dinosaurs, so both families collected all the dinosaurs in their homes and the children decided which one could make the trip to the ISS.

‘It is a unique way for Bob and I to share this with our sons,’ said Hurley.

‘I am glad we could take Tremor with us and we are happy to see the response to Tremor.’

The pair dined on pizza that was waiting for them in the helicopter after they were retrieved from the capsule. Hurley again touched on the prank calls the two made while waiting in the capsule

The pair dined on pizza that was waiting for them in the helicopter after they were retrieved from the capsule. Hurley again touched on the prank calls the two made while waiting in the capsule

One question many viewers may have had as they watched the capsule fall into the Gulf of Mexico is, what their first meal on Earth will be.

The pair dined on pizza that was waiting for them in the helicopter after they were retrieved from the capsule.

Hurley again touched on the prank calls the two made while waiting in the capsule.

They phoned their wives, who they said were thrilled to hear from them along with NASA flight director Anthony Vareha who shared the news on Twitter Sunday.

‘I received one of these calls at the flight director console. It started with an opening line like ‘Hi, it’s Doug and Bob, and we’re in the ocean.’ I think my response was, ‘Yeah, I can see that,’ he wrote in a tweet.

‘Space dads’ Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken made prank calls in SpaceX’s Dragon capsule

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken spent an hour waiting inside SpaceX‘s Crew Dragon Capsule after splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico and to pass the time, the ‘space dads’ made a few prank calls.

Hurely revealed the mischievous endeavor during a press conference, saying the roller-coaster like trip home was ‘a lot to process’ and joked they were ‘making prank satellite phone calls’ – and suggested SpaceX CEO Elon Musk foot the bill for the calls.

Hurley and Behnken made their historic water landing at 2:48pm ET inside SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule – the first time this has been attempted in 45 years.

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Hurely revealed the mischievous endeavor during a press conference, saying the roller-coaster like trip home was ‘a lot to process’ and joked they were ‘making prank satellite phone calls’ using a satellite phone – and suggested SpaceX CEO Elon Musk foot the bill for the calls

‘Five hours ago, we were in a spaceship, bobbing around, making prank satellite phone calls to whoever we could get a hold of. Which was kind of fun, by the way,’ Hurley said during a welcome-home ceremony in Houston, where NASA’s astronaut corps is based.

Although the team did not elaborate on who they phoned while trapped in the capsule, NASA flight director Anthony Vareha shared he was pranked.

‘I received one of these calls at the flight director console. It started with an opening line like ‘Hi, it’s Doug and Bob, and we’re in the ocean.’ I think my response was, ‘Yeah, I can see that,’ he wrote in a tweet.

Behnken’s wife, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, also received a call from the newly returned Crew Dragon.

Although the team did not elaborate on who they phoned while trapped in the capsule, NASA flight director Anthony Vareha shared he was pranked

Although the team did not elaborate on who they phoned while trapped in the capsule, NASA flight director Anthony Vareha shared he was pranked

Varhea shared part of the conversation on his Twitter account

Varhea shared part of the conversation on his Twitter account

Hurley and Behnken made their historic water landing at 2:48pm ET inside SpaceX's Dragon Capsule – the first time this has been attempted in 45 years

Hurley and Behnken made their historic water landing at 2:48pm ET inside SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule – the first time this has been attempted in 45 years

On my phone it said ‘Spam Risk.’ Glad I answered anyway!’ McArthur tweeted yesterday.

Hurley and Behnken made their historic water landing at 2:48pm ET inside SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule – the first time this has been attempted in 45 years 

Although Hurley and Behnken joked when they landed back on Earth, the team took the mission very seriously. 

Behnken's wife, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, also received a call from the newly returned Crew Dragon

Behnken’s wife, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, also received a call from the newly returned Crew Dragon

The first launched from Cape Canaveral on May 30, which marked the first time NASA has sent astronauts to the International Space station aboard an American rocket from US soil in nine years.

The ride home in the capsule dubbed Endeavour was fast, bumpy and hot, at least on the outside.

The spacecraft went from a screaming orbital speed of 17,500 mph to 350 mph during atmospheric reentry, and finally to 15 mph at splashdown. 

The ride home in the capsule dubbed Endeavour was fast, bumpy and hot, at least on the outside. The spacecraft went from a screaming orbital speed of 17,500 mph to 350 mph during atmospheric reentry, and finally to 15 mph at splashdown

The ride home in the capsule dubbed Endeavour was fast, bumpy and hot, at least on the outside. The spacecraft went from a screaming orbital speed of 17,500 mph to 350 mph during atmospheric reentry, and finally to 15 mph at splashdown 

Within a half-hour of splashdown, the scorched and blistered 15-foot capsule was on board a SpaceX recovery ship with a staff of more than 40, including doctors and nurses

Within a half-hour of splashdown, the scorched and blistered 15-foot capsule was on board a SpaceX recovery ship with a staff of more than 40, including doctors and nurses

Peak heating during descent was 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

‘Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,’ Mission Control from SpaceX headquarters said, welcoming Hurley and Behnken back following the splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

A visibly excited SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the mission heralded a new era.

‘We’re going to go to the Moon, we’re going to have a base on the Moon; we’re going to Mars,’ he said.

‘I’m not very religious but I prayed for this one.’

Within a half-hour of splashdown, the scorched and blistered 15-foot capsule was on board a SpaceX recovery ship with a staff of more than 40, including doctors and nurses.

To keep the returning astronauts safe during the pandemic, the recovery crew quarantined for two weeks and were tested for the coronavirus.

A visibly excited SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the mission heralded a new era. 'We're going to go to the Moon, we're going to have a base on the Moon; we're going to Mars,' he said. 'I'm not very religious but I prayed for this one'

A visibly excited SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the mission heralded a new era. ‘We’re going to go to the Moon, we’re going to have a base on the Moon; we’re going to Mars,’ he said. ‘I’m not very religious but I prayed for this one’

The opening of the hatch was held up briefly by extra checks for toxic rocket fumes outside the capsule. After medical exams, the astronauts were expected to fly to Houston for a reunion with their wives and sons.

Hurley offered final thanks just before he exited the capsule. ‘Anybody who’s touched Endeavour, you should take a moment to just cherish the day, especially given all the things that have happened this year.’

Hurley and Behnken spent a total of 63 days on the ISS in Earth orbit, participating in research and space walks on the massive station.

‘I’m not religious, but I prayed for this one’: Emotional Elon Musk welcomes home NASA astronauts

An emotional Elon Musk welcomed NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken home Sunday after their historic splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico aboard SpaceX‘s Dragon capsule. 

The billionaire SpaceX chief executive had rushed to Houston from the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to welcome them. He was clearly moved — and relieved — while addressing the gathered group. It was the first time a private company has flown to the ISS carrying astronauts.

‘This day heralds a new age of space exploration,’ Musk said. ‘I’m not very religious, but I prayed for this one.’

The return home of Hurley and Behnken also marked the end of a two-month voyage that was NASA’s first crewed mission from home soil in nine years. The two men began their journey when they took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station on May 30. 

‘Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,’ said Mission Control from SpaceX headquarters. Musk tweeted: ‘Congratulations SpaceX & NASA on completing first crewed Dragon flight!!’

He added the U.S. flag emoji followed by ‘returned’ — referring to a rivalry with Boeing Co over which company’s astronaut crew would be the first to retrieve an American flag left on the space station in 2011, when the last crewed mission launched from U.S. soil. Behnken and Hurley brought the flag back to Earth, stowed as cargo in Crew Dragon. 

Musk later said of the mission: ‘I think my entire adrenaline just dumped. These are difficult times, there’s not that much good news…No matter where you are on planet Earth, this is a good thing. And I hope it brightens your day.’

Elon Musk had rushed to Houston from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to welcome them. He was clearly moved — and relieved — while addressing the group. ‘I’m not very religious, but I prayed for this one,’ he said

NASA astronaut Robert Behnken gives a thumbs up to onlookers as he boards a plane at Naval Air Station Pensacola to return him and NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley home to Houston a few hours after the duo landed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola, Florida

NASA astronaut Robert Behnken gives a thumbs up to onlookers as he boards a plane at Naval Air Station Pensacola to return him and NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley home to Houston a few hours after the duo landed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola, Florida

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley waves to onlookers after reuturning to Earth on Sunday in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to close out an unprecedented test flight by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley waves to onlookers after reuturning to Earth on Sunday in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to close out an unprecedented test flight by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

The SpaceX capsule splashes down Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken spent a little over two months on the International Space Station. It s the first splashdown in 45 years for NASA astronauts and the first time a private company has ferried people from orbit

The SpaceX capsule splashes down Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken spent a little over two months on the International Space Station. It s the first splashdown in 45 years for NASA astronauts and the first time a private company has ferried people from orbit

Support teams and recreational boaters arriving at the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola

Support teams and recreational boaters arriving at the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (L) and Douglas Hurley are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule spacecraft which landed in the Gulf of Mexico after completing the Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station on August 2

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (L) and Douglas Hurley are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule spacecraft which landed in the Gulf of Mexico after completing the Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station on August 2

Sunday’s arrival was the first water landing by NASA since 1975, when crews were still using the Apollo rockets from the American moon missions. The return clears the way for another SpaceX crew launch as early as next month and possible tourist flights next year.

‘It’s a little bit overwhelming to see everybody here considering the things that have gone on the last few months since we’ve been off planet,’ Hurley said after arriving back home in Houston Sunday evening where they were greeted by a small masked-gathering of family and officials, including Musk. 

The American space agency paid SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing a total of about $7 billion for their ‘space taxi’ contracts. But Boeing’s program has floundered badly after a failed test run late last year, which left SpaceX, a company founded only in 2002, as clear frontrunner.

For the past nine years, US astronauts traveled exclusively on Russian Soyuz rockets, for a price of around $80 million per seat.  

The two astronauts were greeted by a small masked-gathering of family and officials, including Musk

Musk tweeted: 'Congratulations SpaceX & NASA on completing first crewed Dragon flight!!'

The two astronauts were greeted by a small masked-gathering of family and officials, including Musk

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft landing with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft landing with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard

It was the first splashdown by U.S. astronauts in 45 years, with the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit. The return clears the way for another SpaceX crew launch as early as next month and possible tourist flights next year

It was the first splashdown by U.S. astronauts in 45 years, with the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry people to and from orbit. The return clears the way for another SpaceX crew launch as early as next month and possible tourist flights next year

NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester (L) and NASA astronaut and Crew Recovery Chief Shane Kimbrough onboard the SpaceX recovery vessel GO Navigator, prepare for a splashdown of the SpaceX Crew Dragon "Endeavour" spacecraft

NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester (L) and NASA astronaut and Crew Recovery Chief Shane Kimbrough onboard the SpaceX recovery vessel GO Navigator, prepare for a splashdown of the SpaceX Crew Dragon ‘Endeavour’ spacecraft

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (L) and Robert Behnken prepare to depart their helicopter at Naval Air Station Pensacola

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (L) and Robert Behnken prepare to depart their helicopter at Naval Air Station Pensacola

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft being lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after it landed. Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived back on Earth in their SpaceX Dragon capsule named Endeavour, less than a day after departing the International Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft being lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after it landed. Test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived back on Earth in their SpaceX Dragon capsule named Endeavour, less than a day after departing the International Space Station and two months after blasting off from Florida

Behnken and Hurley, tallying 64 days in space, undocked from the station on Saturday and returned home to land their capsule in calm waters off Florida’s Pensacola coast on schedule at 2:48 p.m. ET following a 21-hour overnight journey aboard Crew Dragon ‘Endeavor.’

‘This has been quite an odyssey,’ Hurley told senior NASA and SpaceX officials at a homecoming ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. ‘To be where we are now, the first crewed flight of Dragon, is just unbelievable.’ 

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the successful mission marked ‘a new era of human spaceflight where NASA is no longer the purchaser, owner and operator of all the hardware’ but one of many future customers of space travel.

‘Today we really made history,’ Bridenstine told an earlier press conference.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is seen as it lands. Within a half-hour of splashdown, the scorched and blistered 15-foot capsule was hoisted aboard a SpaceX recovery ship with a staff of more than 40, including medics

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is seen as it lands. Within a half-hour of splashdown, the scorched and blistered 15-foot capsule was hoisted aboard a SpaceX recovery ship with a staff of more than 40, including medics 

The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on July 24, 1975, in the Pacific, the scene of most splashdowns, to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz

The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on July 24, 1975, in the Pacific, the scene of most splashdowns, to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz

Its throwback splashdown aside, SpaceX made history with the mission, which launched May 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was the first time a private company launched people into orbit and also the first launch of NASA astronauts from home turf in nearly a decade

Its throwback splashdown aside, SpaceX made history with the mission, which launched May 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was the first time a private company launched people into orbit and also the first launch of NASA astronauts from home turf in nearly a decade

Despite Coast Guard restrictions and safety risks, spectators in private boats surrounded the splash-down site dozens of miles from shore as SpaceX and NASA recovery teams used a crane to hoist the spacecraft out of the water and onto a boat. 

The crew’s retrieval from Crew Dragon was delayed slightly as the teams worked to flush its fuel tanks after sensing traces of nitrogen tetroxide fumes outside the capsule, a toxic gas from one the spacecraft’s flammable fuels.

Hurley, giving a thumbs up as he was wheeled out of the spacecraft on a stretcher, a normal procedure as astronauts adjust to Earth’s gravity, said: ‘I’m just proud to be a small part of this whole effort to get a company and people to and from the space station.’

‘Thanks for doing the most difficult parts and the most important parts of human spaceflight – getting us into orbit and bringing us home,’ Behnken told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, as the hatch door was opened.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon 'Endeavour' spacecraft is hoisted from the Gulf of Mexico onto the deck of the SpaceX recovery vessel. SpaceX needs six weeks to inspect the capsule before launching the next crew around the end of September

The SpaceX Crew Dragon ‘Endeavour’ spacecraft is hoisted from the Gulf of Mexico onto the deck of the SpaceX recovery vessel. SpaceX needs six weeks to inspect the capsule before launching the next crew around the end of September

By beating Boeing, SpaceX laid claim to a small U.S. flag left at the space station by Hurley and the rest of the last shuttle crew. Minutes after splashdown, Musk tweeted a flag emoji followed by 'returned'

By beating Boeing, SpaceX laid claim to a small U.S. flag left at the space station by Hurley and the rest of the last shuttle crew. Minutes after splashdown, Musk tweeted a flag emoji followed by ‘returned’

Behnken and Hurley, tallying 64 days in space, undocked from the station on Saturday and returned home to land their capsule in calm waters off Florida’s Pensacola coast on schedule at 2:48 p.m. ET following a 21-hour overnight journey

Behnken and Hurley, tallying 64 days in space, undocked from the station on Saturday and returned home to land their capsule in calm waters off Florida’s Pensacola coast on schedule at 2:48 p.m. ET following a 21-hour overnight journey

For the return sequence, on-board thrusters and two sets of parachutes worked autonomously to slow the acorn-shaped capsule, bringing Behnken and Hurley’s speed of 17,500 miles per hour in orbit down to 350 mph upon atmospheric re-entry, and eventually 15 mph at splash-down. 

NASA officials have said Crew Dragon, a pod with seven astronaut seats, was in a ‘very healthy’ condition while docked at the space station, where astronauts conducted tests and monitored how the spacecraft performs in space.

Behnken and Hurley undocked from the orbital station late on Saturday to begin their trip home, waking at 7:40 a.m. Sunday to a recorded wakeup call from their sons.

‘Good morning Dragon Endeavor,’ Hurley’s son said in a recorded message sent to the capsule. ‘I’m happy you went into space but I’m even happier that you’re coming back home.’      

‘It was a great relief when I saw Bob and Doug come out of the capsule, smiling, thumbs up, looking very cheerful,’ SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters. ‘That was the good moment.’          

) SpaceX support teams are deployed on a fast boat from the SpaceX recovery vessel GO Navigator ahead of a splashdown

) SpaceX support teams are deployed on a fast boat from the SpaceX recovery vessel GO Navigator ahead of a splashdown

The astronauts’ ride back to Earth was fast, bumpy and hot, at least on the outside.

The spacecraft went from a screaming orbital speed of 17,500 mph to 350 mph during atmospheric reentry, and finally to 15 mph at splashdown. Peak heating during descent was 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The anticipated top G forces felt by the crew: four to five times the force of Earth’s gravity.

Within a half-hour of splashdown, the scorched and blistered 15-foot capsule was hoisted aboard a SpaceX recovery ship with a staff of more than 40, including doctors and nurses. To keep the returning astronauts safe in the pandemic, the recovery crew quarantined for two weeks and were tested for the coronavirus.

The opening of the hatch was held up briefly by extra checks for toxic rocket fumes outside the capsule. After medical checkups, the astronauts were flown by helicopter to Pensacola and then to Houston.

There was one unexpected problem that could have endangered the operation: Once the capsule was in the water, private boats ‘just made a beeline for it,’ and got too close, said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, promising to do better next time at keeping sightseers on pleasure boats safely away. NASA video showed one vessel flying a large campaign flag for President Donald Trump.

The Coast Guard in Pensacola said it had deployed two vessels to keep the public at least 10 miles away from the capsule.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who both attended the launch, congratulated the SpaceX and NASA teams.

‘Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission. Thank you to all!’ Trump tweeted.

SpaceX's Dragon capsule successfully landed in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the first time in the past 45 years that NASA has conducted a water landing

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule successfully landed in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the first time in the past 45 years that NASA has conducted a water landing

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have returned home, marking the end of a historic mission that brought space flight back to US soil. The team splashed down off the coast of Pensacola, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48pm ET, following a two-month mission on the International Space Station

The last time NASA astronauts returned from space to water was on July 24, 1975, in the Pacific, the scene of most splashdowns, to end a joint U.S.-Soviet mission known as Apollo-Soyuz. The Mercury and Gemini crews in the early to mid-1960s parachuted into the Atlantic, while most of the later Apollo capsules hit the Pacific. The lone Russian ‘splashdown’ was in 1976 on a partially frozen lake amid a blizzard following an aborted mission; the harrowing recovery took hours.

Gemini and Apollo astronaut Thomas Stafford — the commander of the last crew to splash down — watched the reentry on TV from his Florida home. While pleased with the crew’s safe return, he wasn’t overly impressed. ‘It’s what we did over 50 years ago,’ he said.

Its throwback splashdown aside, SpaceX made history with the mission, which launched May 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It was the first time a private company launched people into orbit and also the first launch of NASA astronauts from home turf in nearly a decade. Hurley was the pilot of NASA’s last space shuttle flight in 2011 and the commander of this SpaceX flight.

NASA turned to SpaceX and also Boeing to build capsules and ferry astronauts to and from the space station, following the retirement of the shuttles. Until Hurley and Behnken rocketed into orbit, NASA astronauts relied on Russian rockets. SpaceX already had experience hauling cargo to the space station, bringing those capsules back to a Pacific splashdown. 

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell called the mission a springboard to ‘doing even harder things,’ like collaborating on astronaut flights to the moon and then Mars.

‘There’s no question, it was an enormous relief after months of anxiety making sure we could bring Bob and Doug back home safely,’ Shotwell said.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule and have emerged from the cabin, stepping foot on Earth the first time in 63 days

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and have emerged from the cabin, stepping foot on Earth the first time in 63 days

The Falcon 9 rocket was pictured carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 30

The Falcon 9 rocket was pictured carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 30

SpaceX needs six weeks to inspect the capsule before launching the next crew around the end of September. This next mission of four astronauts will spend a full six months aboard the space station. Hurley and Behnken’s capsule will be refurbished for another flight next spring. A Houston company run by a former NASA official, meanwhile, has partnered with SpaceX to send three customers to the space station in fall 2021.

‘It took years to get here, we brought the capablity back to America, and we came home safely to our families, and it took a lot of people a lot of time to make that happen,’ Behnken said back in Houston.

Boeing doesn’t expect to launch its first crew until next year. The company encountered significant software problems in the debut of its Starliner capsule, with no one aboard, last year. Its capsules will touch down in the U.S. Southwest desert. 

Also on board: a toy dinosaur named Tremor, sent into space by the astronauts’ young sons. The two boys recorded a wake-up call for their fathers Sunday morning.

‘Don’t worry, you can sleep in tomorrow,’ said Behnken’s 6-year-old son Theo, who was promised a puppy after the flight. ‘Hurry home so we can go get my dog.’

Astronauts successfully depart ISS aboard SpaceX Dragon to head home before splashdown Sunday

BREAKING: Astronauts successfully depart ISS aboard SpaceX Dragon to head home before splashdown tomorrow

  • Two Nasa astronauts will make the first splashdown return in 45 years after SpaceX’s astronaut carrier the Crew Dragon successfully undocked from the ISS 
  • Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley began their journey back to Earth amid the threat of Hurricane Isaias, which is edging closer to their landing destination 
  • Their departure from the ISS was announced by SpaceX in a tweet on Saturday 
  • The astronauts made history on May 30 when they became the first people to launch into low-Earth orbit on a commercial spacecraft that was built by SpaceX
  • Their mission, named Demo-2, also marked the first time Nasa launched astronauts from US soil in nine years

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Saturday with two US astronauts on board, beginning their journey back to Earth despite a storm threatening Florida.

NASA footage showed the capsule drifting slowly away from the ISS in the darkness of space, closing out two months aboard for the first US astronauts to reach the orbiting lab on an American spacecraft in nearly a decade.

‘And they are off!’ the US space agency tweeted, with Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken set to splash down Sunday.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, shown here separating from the International Space Station, has begun its return journey to Earth

NASA later added the capsule was confirmed to be ‘on a safe trajectory.’

Their proposed splash-down sites are off the coast of western Florida’s panhandle, while tropical storm Isaias is headed toward the state’s east coast.

NASA opted to go ahead with bringing the pair home despite the threat of Isaias, which was downgraded to a tropical storm from a hurricane on Saturday.

‘Now is the entry, descent and splashdown phase after we undock, hopefully a little bit later today,’ Hurley said in a farewell ceremony aboard the ISS that was broadcast on NASA TV.

On entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the Crew Dragon will face scorching temperatures of around 1,900C as it deploys parachutes to slow its speed down to around 119 miles per hour, before landing on the ocean.

The splashdown is the final step in the mission designed to test SpaceX’s human spaceflight system – including launch, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations. 

The last time astronauts made an ocean landing was on July 1975 during an Apollo mission. 

This NASA video frame grab image shows SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken watching an infrared view of the ISS on their screens after undocking from it

This NASA video frame grab image shows SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken watching an infrared view of the ISS on their screens after undocking from it

‘The teams are working really hard, especially with the dynamics of the weather over the next few days around Florida,’ he said.

Earlier, during the ISS ceremony, Behnken said that ‘the hardest part was getting us launched. But the most important part is bringing us home.’

Addressing his son and Hurley’s son, he held up a toy dinosaur that the children chose to send on the mission and said: ‘Tremor The Apatosaurus is headed home soon and he’ll be with your dads.’

Behnken later tweeted: ‘All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go.’

Mission chief Chris Cassidy called it an ‘exciting day’ and hailed the importance of having a new means to transport astronauts.

Bob Behnken (r) and Doug Hurley (l) blasted off from Cape Canaveral on May 30 on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon, and are supposed to splash down off the coast of Florida on Sunday

Bob Behnken (r) and Doug Hurley (l) blasted off from Cape Canaveral on May 30 on board a SpaceX Crew Dragon, and are supposed to splash down off the coast of Florida on Sunday

The mission, which blasted off May 30, marked the first time a crewed spaceship had launched into orbit from American soil since 2011 when the space shuttle program ended.

It was also the first time a private company has flown to the ISS carrying astronauts. 

The US has paid SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing a total of about $7 billion for their ‘space taxi’ contracts.

But Boeing’s program has floundered badly after a failed test run late last year, which left SpaceX, a company founded only in 2002, as clear frontrunner.

For the past nine years, US astronauts traveled exclusively on Russian Soyuz rockets, for a price of around $80 million per seat.

Satellite images reveal two ice caps in the Canadian Arctic have disappeared

Two ice caps in the Canadian Arctic have DISAPPEARED due to global warming, NASA satellite images reveal – fulfilling a bleak prediction from 2017

  • The ice caps have been studied by Professor Mark Serreze since the 1980s 
  • Satellite images from 2015 show they were only 5% of the size they were in 1959 
  • Images from the satellite in 2020 show the ice caps have completely vanished  

Two Arctic ice caps have vanished due to human-induced global warming, satellite images show. 

Images taken by NASA in 2015 and 2020 reveal how they have disappeared in just half a decade.

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center has studied the St. Patrick Bay ice caps in some capacity since the 1980s. 

He published a scientific paper in 2017 that stated if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, the ice caps would vanish within five years. He was correct. 

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Images taken by NASA in 2015 and 2020 reveal how ttwo polar ice caps have vanished in half a decade due to global warming. Pictured, one of the caps in 2015 (left) an the same location on July 14, 2020 (right) 

Pictured, the St. Patrick Bay ice caps on the Hazen Plateau of northeastern Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, and have they dwindled over the last 60 years until they have eventually disappeared

Pictured, the St. Patrick Bay ice caps on the Hazen Plateau of northeastern Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada, and have they dwindled over the last 60 years until they have eventually disappeared

‘When I first visited those ice caps, they seemed like such a permanent fixture of the landscape,’ he said. 

‘To watch them die in less than 40 years just blows me away.’ 

The 2017 study compared satellite imagery from 2015 with historical images dating back to 1959.

This revealed the caps were, in 2015, just five per cent of their size almost 60 years ago. 

ASTER satellites took images of the same area on July 14, 2020 and the ice caps are nowhere to be found. 

Pictured: the ASTER satellite image from August 4, 2015, which shows the location where the St. Patrick Bay ice caps (circled in blue). As of July 2020, satellite images show that these ice caps have disappeared

Pictured: the ASTER satellite image from August 4, 2015, which shows the location where the St. Patrick Bay ice caps (circled in blue). As of July 2020, satellite images show that these ice caps have disappeared

The ice caps are at the northern tip of Canada in the Arctic circle (pictured). The loss of these ice caps is a very visual representation of the sweltering planet humans have created and now inhabit

The ice caps are at the northern tip of Canada in the Arctic circle (pictured). The loss of these ice caps is a very visual representation of the sweltering planet humans have created and now inhabit

Climate change ‘could wipe out polar bears in 80 years’

Most polar bear populations are at risk of dying out by 2100 as their natural habitat of Arctic sea ice is diminished by global warming, a study warns.  

A damning piece of research claims the predators will be forced to migrate on to solid land, where hunting will be impossible for them. 

As a result, the bears will be forced to survive on their fat reserves, an unsustainable option for the world’s largest carnivore. 

The study claims that almost all polar bear cubs face some form of starvation by 2040, with many adults also experiencing reproductive stress in just 20 years’ time.  

 Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada said ‘aggressive’ cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are now needed to save the animals.

The loss of these ice caps is a very visual representation of the sweltering planet humans have created and now inhabit. 

Scientists regularly report hottest temperatures on record all around the world, as climate change manifests itself in a slowly boiling world. 

It is leading to drought, famine and extreme weather events as well as surging sea levels. 

A recent study published in Scientific Reports found coastal flooding is set to rise by around 50 per cent globally due to climate change in the next 80 years.  

UK and Australian researchers conducted climate change scenarios where carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise rapidly. 

They found the associated flooding, due to the melting of polar ice, would endanger millions of people and cost more than £10 trillion.  

Land exposed to extreme flooding will increase by more than 96,500 square miles globally – up 48 per cent or more than 308,000 square miles from today.  

This would mean about 77 million more people will be at risk of experiencing flooding – a rise of 52 per cent to 225 million at the very least. 

‘We’ve long known that as climate change takes hold, the effects would be especially pronounced in the Arctic,’ Professor Serreze says. 

‘But the death of those two little caps that I once knew so well has made climate change very personal. All that’s left are some photographs and a lot of memories.’