NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on Sunday as their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft returned them safely to Earth after a historic two-month trip to space.
The successful mission marks the first time a private company — Elon Musk's SpaceX — has launched astronauts into orbit.
The spacecraft went from a screaming orbital speed of 17,500 mph (28,000 kph) to 350 mph (560 kph) during atmospheric reentry, and finally to 15 mph (24 kph) at splashdown. Peak heating during descent was 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,900 degrees Celsius). The anticipated top G forces felt by the crew: four to five times the force of Earth's gravity.
"Welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX," said Mission Control from SpaceX headquarters after the successful splashdown.
Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, said:
"We don't want to purchase, own, and operate the hardware the way we used to. We want to be one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.
This is the next era in human spaceflight, where NASA gets to be the customer. We want to be a strong customer, we want to be a great partner. But we don't want to be the only ones that are operating with humans in space."