SpaceX Dragon Capsule 'Comes Alive' During Reentry
By: Evan Mei
SpaceX had their first manned flight to space, and on Tuesday, when the Dragon capsule reentered Earth’s atmosphere, the crew said that the Dragon capsule “came alive.” It sounded like a lion and raced through the atmosphere for a smooth splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.
Astronaut Bob Behnken said, “Once we descended a little bit into the atmosphere, the Dragon really, it came alive.”
The thrusters meant to keep the capsule from landing in the wrong place were almost always firing, he said.
Within the capsule, the astronauts experienced 4.2 Gs, meaning they weigh 4.2 times as much as they would on Earth.
When the trunk fell off the capsule as planned and revealed parachutes, Behnken described it as “getting hit in the back of a chair with a baseball bat.”
SpaceX is the first private company to send astronauts into orbit, launching their astronauts on May 30 from Kennedy Space Center, launching for the first time on American soil in nine years. NASA has relied on Russian rockets since shuttles were retired in 2011.
“One of the things that we're most proud of is bringing launch capability back to the Florida coast, back to America, and of course, landing safely at the end of all of that,” said Behnken.
It’s also the first splashdown in 45 years, since Russian capsules launch and land in Kazakhstan, which is made of primarily solid ground.
There were a couple of rule breakers. Nearly 2 dozen civilian vessels rushed for the capsule, ignoring the 10 mile radius that was to be kept around the capsule, placing recovery teams, astronauts and themselves at risk.
Hurley said, “We certainly appreciate the folks wanting to participate in the event, but there are some safety aspects ... we'll have to take a look at because it just can't happen (again) like it did before."
Due to leaking rocket fumes, which are toxic, the opening of the hatch had to be delayed.
As the astronauts waited for the opening of the hatch, the astronauts tested the on board satellite phone, calling SpaceX’s control center, which just said “standby” and left the astronauts hanging. So, they directed a call to the NASA flight director, along with their wives in Houston. NASA had requested the astronauts run the test since an astronaut whose Russian launch was aborted in 2018 ended up with faulty or even missing numbers on the crew’s sat phone.