NASA Astronauts Say Splashing Down in Florida 'Was A Great Relief' After Historic SpaceX Mission
"To be where we are now — the first group flight of Dragon — is just unbelievable," astronaut Douglas "Doug" Hurley said during a press conference
NASA astronauts Robert "Bob" Behnken and Douglas "Doug" Hurley are speaking out after their historic mission onboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
During multiple interviews this week, Behnken, 50, and Hurley, 53, admitted that they felt a sense of reassurance after safely returning to Earth on Sunday and making the splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
"We felt the splash and we saw it splash up over the windows," Behnken shared in a press conference, according to CBS This Morning. "It was just a great relief for both of us at that point."
That relief was also shared with the astronauts' wives, whom Hurley said they both called after successfully landing in the water.
"[We said] 'Hi this is Bob and Doug, we're in the ocean!'" Hurley recalled in the press conference. "And then we also called our wives, who happened to be together — I think they were here, at mission control — and of course, they were excited."
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft initially took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 after its original takeoff date was delayed three days due to weather.
The following day, Hurley and Behnken arrived at the International Space Station. The astronauts spent close to two months in space aboard the spacecraft named Dragon Endeavour before undocking from the Space Station on Saturday and heading home.
Though Tropical Storm Isaias was surging toward Florida's Atlantic shore and the spacecraft had minor technical difficulties earlier in the morning when a backup generator failed on the recovery ship prior to leaving port, SpaceX's splashdown was not affected.
"There's something special about having that capability to launch and bring your own astronauts home," Behnken said during a NASA news conference of becoming the first flight of American astronauts on American-made rockets from U.S. soil in nine years.
"We went through a lot of years without that capability, and I think we're both super, super proud to have been just a small part of the team that accomplished bringing those spaceflights back to the Florida coast and bringing that capability back to America," he added.
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Hurley echoed his sentiments, saying, "This has been quite an odyssey, the last five, six, seven, eight years. [It's been] five years since Bob and I started working on this program and to be where we are now — the first group flight of Dragon — is just unbelievable."
Now, safely back on Earth, the best friend astronauts said they look forward to seeing their spaceship in a museum one day — but not before Behnken's wife, oceanographer and astronaut Megan McArthur, takes it on a journey next year.
"I think all of this hardware has a place somewhere in the future when it's used up," Behnken shared, according to CBS This Morning. "It's just not used up yet!"