HOUSTON - Two NASA astronauts made history Sunday after returning to Earth following a two-month SpaceX test flight.
It was the first splashdown landing with U.S. astronauts since 1975. It was also the first time a commercially built and operated spacecraft carried people to and from orbit.
The SpaceX Dragon Capsule returned shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday. The astronauts parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico for a splashdown landing.
"Splashdown! As you can see on your screen, we have visual confirmation for splashdown," said NASA/SpaceX mission control.
"On behalf of SpaceX and NASA's teams, welcome back to planet Earth. Thanks for flying SpaceX."
Houston astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were the test pilots for the mission that blasted off from Florida two months ago.
"It's truly our honor and privilege to be a part of the Dragon Endeavor. We thank everybody at SpaceX."
Within 30 minutes of the splashdown, the Dragon Capsule was brought onto a recovery ship where doctors and nurses were on standby to conduct a medical check for astronauts Bob and Doug, as they exited the capsule.
"As you can see here in mission control, a standing ovation for a job well done."
The dramatic splashdown is a sight that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. in 45 years, creating a sense of nostalgia for some Houstonians.
"It’s like a memory from my childhood watching the Apollo missions return and splashing down in the Pacific and all of that. So, there was a certain nostalgia of the astronauts returning to earth in this manner," said Bob Breel, who visited the Houston Space Center to witness history.
"This is just the beginning. Now is the time to capitalize on the great programs that are being established to include going sustainably to the moon, under a program we call Artemis," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Sunday’s successful return means another SpaceX crew launch could happen as early as next month and could even open the door for tourist flights in 2021.