During a press conference , NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley shared what it’s like to surge back through Earth’s atmosphere aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon space capsule.
Behnken described the fascinating events leading up to the splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, where up to four times the Earth’s gravitational force acted on their bodies.
“You can hear that rumble outside the vehicle,” he said. “And as the vehicle tries to stabilize, you feel a bit of that quivering throughout your body. »
“It doesn’t look like a machine, it looks like an animal surging through the atmosphere with all the moods coming out of the thrusters and the noise of the atmosphere,” he added.
NASA astronauts completed the SpaceX and Demo-2 mission on Sunday afternoon , marking the first time a for-profit group has successfully put human astronauts into orbit inside a commercial spacecraft.
And it looks like the mission went off without a hitch.
“We are almost speechless as to the quality of the vehicle and the progress of the mission,” Mr. Hurley told the conference.
Hurley said he anticipated the challenges the vehicle would pose during the mission, noting that there were a lot of issues with the decommissioned NASA space shuttle.
“The mission went exactly like the simulators, from start to finish, to the end,” he said. “There were really no surprises. »
Even screaming into the atmosphere, “the vehicle was solid as a rock”, even when the parachutes deployed.
Behnken described the events of the space capsule’s trunk compartment section separation and parachute deployments “like being hit in the back of the chair with a baseball bat.” »
“It was just a big relief at that time for both of us,” Mr Behnken said, referring to seeing the Atlantic water splash against the water after landing.
“Pizza was waiting for us when we got on board,” he added.
Mr. Hurley also referred to the fact that more than a dozen private boaters showed up after splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico to greet the astronauts.
“We appreciate people wanting to attend the event, but there are some security aspects that we will need to look at,” Hurley said. “It can’t be like before. »
Hurley also addressed reports that the pair made prank calls while waiting inside the spacecraft.
“There was a real reason for that,” he said. “We wanted to do a test call to Hawthorne Central Station. »
But after being put on hold, the couple decided to call other people as well.
“‘Hi, it’s Bob and Doug, we’re in the ocean,'” recalls Hurley. The two men also called their wives, who were together nearby.
Outside of several spacewalks , the duo had a fairly conventional stay aboard the International Space Station — relatively speaking. Mr Behnken recounted how he told his son by satellite phone from the space station how to care for the family’s new puppy.
“Sharing this journey, this odyssey, this effort – as we named our ship – was just one of the true honors of my entire life,” Hurley said, emphasizing the historic significance of the mission.