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.

SpaceX set to test its Starship rocket prototype in short ‘hop’

Elon Musk’s vision of sending humans to Mars on the SpaceX Starship rocket could be a step closer if a 500ft ‘hop’ into the air goes ahead as planned today. 

The short test flight is scheduled to happen today at the Boca Chica facility in Texas between 08:00 CDT (14:00 BST) and 20:00 CDT (02:00 BST).

It was originally scheduled for yesterday but the test was scrubbed due to the turbopump spin start valve not opening in the giant Raptor engine.

The public were tipped off to the test flight thanks to a beach closure filing issued for the area around the launch facility. 

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Elon Musk plans to send humans to Mars aboard SpaceX’s Starship rocket – and that dream may soon come true

SN5 left the rocket factory in June for the testing site in Boca Chia, Texas – less than a month after the fourth prototype exploded.

This latest test will see the SpaceX Starship SN5 prototype ‘hop’ 492ft into the air and back down again – its first test flight.

It is only possible due to the fact the giant 160ft spaceship was able to survive a static fire test at the end of July.  

The prototype doesn’t have all the features of a traditional rocket as it has no nose cone, flaps or other structural features designed to guide it through the upper atmosphere and on to Mars.

However, the guts of the vehicle including a single Raptor engine and large liquid oxygen and methane fuel tanks are in place. 

The test flight is designed to test the integrity of those systems and software used to steer the launch and landing of the full-sized version of the prototype. 

This isn’t the first ‘hop’ for SpaceX – they were able to successfully launch a short ‘Starhopper’ prototype 500ft into the air – this will be the first test of the full ship. 

The massive rocket is SpaceX’s planned next-generation fully reusable launch vehicle, the center Musk’s ambitions to make human space travel affordable.

Musk envisions the Starship will operate much like a commercial airliner by transporting paying customers to the surface of the Moon and Mars.

Musk previously said the lifetime of each Starship will be around 20 to 30 years, ‘like an aircraft’.

Around three Starship flights will launch from Earth per day, or around 1,000 flights a year, and each will have a capacity of more than 90,000 pounds.

By continuously ferrying people the 180 million miles to Mars, Musk is predicting 1,000 human inhabitants by 2030 and ‘maybe around’ one million by 2050. 

However, if SpaceX’s track record continues down the same path, the billionaire may never get the change to colonize Mars. 

The news follows a number of failed Starship tests, as Musk has watched four of the Mars bound rockets burst into flames at the launch site. The prototype Serial Number 4 vanished into a fireball in May (pictured) shortly the engine was ignited for a pressurized test

The news follows a number of failed Starship tests, as Musk has watched four of the Mars bound rockets burst into flames at the launch site. The prototype Serial Number 4 vanished into a fireball in May (pictured) shortly the engine was ignited for a pressurized test

In May, the prototype Serial Number 4 vanished into a fireball at SpaceX’s site in Texas shortly the engine was ignited for a pressurized test.  

The SN4 had passed several important milestones during development, including a pressurization test that had foiled previous models. 

The first rocket was tested in 2019, Mk1 prototype, but was engulfed in flames during a cryogenic pressure test.

The second rocket, dubbed Serial Number 1 (SN1), fell victim to another pressure test when it failed to contain its liquid nitrogen.

This was the fourth Starship rocket that has been lost while testing - all of the the previous vessels also imploded during testing. It began smoking shortly after the test began

This was the fourth Starship rocket that has been lost while testing – all of the the previous vessels also imploded during testing. It began smoking shortly after the test began

And in seconds was engulfed in a ball of flames. The SN4 had passed several important milestones during development, including a pressurization test that had foiled previous models

And in seconds was engulfed in a ball of flames. The SN4 had passed several important milestones during development, including a pressurization test that had foiled previous models

However, this time the stainless steel cylinder flew off the stand and came down crashing .

And the third time SpaceX saw its third catastrophic failure was in April – again the Starship prototype imploded during the cryogenic pressure test.   

It’s been a successful year for the Elon Musk-owned space firm.

Among its achievements are the fact it launched and returned the first astronauts for the International Space Station from US soil in nearly a decade.

SpaceX is also due to launch its Starlink internet broadband service to customers later this year after putting nearly 600 satellites into orbit.

It is also one of three companies in the running to build a lunar Human Landing system for NASA alongside Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and Dynetics. 

The second rocket, dubbed Serial Number 1 (SN1), fell victim to another pressure test when it failed to contain its liquid nitrogen. The top went flying off the rocket that was left mangled on the test pad

 The second rocket, dubbed Serial Number 1 (SN1), fell victim to another pressure test when it failed to contain its liquid nitrogen. The top went flying off the rocket that was left mangled on the test pad 

SPACEX STARSHIP: ELON MUSK PLANS TO SEND THE GIANT ‘CREWED’ SPACESHIP TO MARS AND BACK 

The BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), now known as Starship, has been designed as a passenger and cargo spaceship that can go to Mars or put satellites into orbit.

Elon Musk, SpaceX Chief Engineer said the rocket would take its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo.

It will be followed by a crewed mission in 2024 and, according to Musk, other SpaceX’s products would be ‘cannibalised’ to pay for it.

The rocket would be partially reusable and capable of flight directly from Earth to Mars.

Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – saying that passengers would be able to get anywhere in under an hour.

It could also be used for ‘hops’ to the Moon and SpaceX is one of three firms shortlisted to build a human lunar lander for NASA. 

‘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.’

Egypt invites Elon Musk to see Great Pyramids after he tweeted they were ‘built by aliens obviously’

Elon Musk was invited by a top Egyptian official to see the Great Pyramids for himself after he resurrected the old conspiracy theory that they were built by extraterrestrials. 

The CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, who also is founder of aeronautics firm SpaceX, gave credit to ‘aliens’ for building the pyramids in Giza near Cairo in a tweet on Friday.

‘Aliens built the pyramids obv,’ wrote Musk, prompting a response from Egypt‘s Minister of International Cooperation Rania al-Mashat the next day.

Elon Musk was invited by a top Egyptian official to see the Great Pyramids for himself after he resurrected the old conspiracy theory that they were built by extraterrestrials

The CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, who also is founder of aeronautics firm SpaceX, gave credit to 'aliens' for building the pyramids in Giza (pictured) near Cairo in a tweet on Friday

The CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, who also is founder of aeronautics firm SpaceX, gave credit to ‘aliens’ for building the pyramids in Giza (pictured) near Cairo in a tweet on Friday

'Aliens built the pyramids obv,' wrote Musk in the tweet (pictured)

‘Aliens built the pyramids obv,’ wrote Musk in the tweet (pictured)

‘I follow your work with a lot of admiration’ wrote al-Mashat via Twitter.

‘I invite you & Space X to explore the writings about how the pyramids were built and also to check out the tombs of the pyramid builders. Mr. Musk, we are waiting for you,’ she added.

Musk’s tweet was liked more than 500,000 times and retweed 87,000. 

Musk's claim prompted a response from Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation Rania al-Mashat, pictured during an interview with Bloomberg Television

Musk’s claim prompted a response from Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania al-Mashat, pictured during an interview with Bloomberg Television

Al-Mashat invited Musk to visit the pyramids himself, via Twitter (pictured0

Al-Mashat invited Musk to visit the pyramids himself, via Twitter (pictured0

However, he seemed to take the claim back in a follow up social media post linking to an article describing how the pyramids were more likely built by humans living in an Egyptian settlement. 

This BBC article provides a sensible summary for how it was done,’ Musk wrote, linking to a story with the headline, ‘The Private Lives of the Pyramid-builders’. 

But the billionaire entrepreneur, known for making sometimes erratic tweets, couldn’t shake off the original comment about aliens. 

Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass delivered a video response in Arabic debunking the claim aliens were involved, a conspiracy theory giving beings from another world credit for building ancient structures, including the statues on Easter Island. 

Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass delivered a video response in Arabic debunking Musk's claim aliens were involved, a conspiracy theory giving beings from another world credit for building ancient structures, including the statues on Easter Island

Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass delivered a video response in Arabic debunking Musk’s claim aliens were involved, a conspiracy theory giving beings from another world credit for building ancient structures, including the statues on Easter Island

‘This is a response from Zahi Hawass to American billionaire Elon Musk,’ Hawass said in the footage posted on his Facebook page, Egypt Today reported.

‘What you said about the pyramids is completely hallucination, the pyramids are built by Egyptians,’ the archaeologist wrote.  

‘I found the tombs of the pyramids builders that tell everyone that the builders of the pyramids are Egyptians and they were not slaves,’ he explained, accusing Musk of being ‘wrong’ and his claim a ‘hallucination’. 

Egyptians built pyramids thousands of years ago, mostly to serve as tombs for their pharaohs.  

An 1838 diagram shows the interior of two of the Great pyramids. Egyptians built pyramids thousands of years ago, mostly to serve as tombs for their pharaohs

An 1838 diagram shows the interior of two of the Great pyramids. Egyptians built pyramids thousands of years ago, mostly to serve as tombs for their pharaohs

Archaeologists in 2018 came a step closer to understanding how the Great Pyramid, the largest of the structures commissioned by Fourth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu, was built about 4,500 years ago.

The remains of a ramp system were unearthed at the time in an ancient quarry in the Eastern Desert, according to Live Science.

Its design suggests the ramp was used to drag massive alabaster stones up a slope, using sleds and rope.

The remains of a 4,500-year-old ramp system have been unearthed in an ancient quarry in the Eastern Desert. Experts say such a design would have alleviated some of the burden for the workers who had to pull these huge loads

The remains of a 4,500-year-old ramp system have been unearthed in an ancient quarry in the Eastern Desert. Experts say such a design would have alleviated some of the burden for the workers who had to pull these huge loads

The ancient ramp was discovered at the site of Hatnub by researchers from the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo and the University of Liverpool in England, Live Science reports.

Along its sides are two staircases lined with postholes, to which ropes were likely tied thousands of years ago to drag the huge stone blocks.

Such a design would have alleviated some of the burden for the workers who had to pull these huge loads.