Pensacola Splashdown: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Returns To Gulf Of Mexico (With Photo Gallery)

August 3, 2020

Two NASA astronauts splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola Sunday for the first time in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft, returning from the International Space Station to complete a test flight that marks a new era in human spaceflight.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, carrying Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, splashed down under parachutes at 1:48 p.m. Sunday and was successfully recovered by SpaceX. After returning to land at Pensacola Naval Air Station, the astronauts were flown back to Houston.

For a photo gallery, click here.

(article continues below each photo, scroll down)

Pictured above: The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is lifted onto the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after it landed in the Gulf South of Pensacola.

“Welcome home, Bob and Doug! Congratulations to the NASA and SpaceX teams for the incredible work to make this test flight possible,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It’s a testament to what we can accomplish when we work together to do something once thought impossible. Partners are key to how we go farther than ever before and take the next steps on daring missions to the Moon and Mars.”

Behnken and Hurley’s return was the first splashdown for American astronauts since Thomas Stafford, Vance Brand, and Donald “Deke” Slayton landed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii on July 24, 1975, at the end of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Pictured: above: NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight launched May 30 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After reaching orbit, Behnken and Hurley named their Crew Dragon spacecraft “Endeavour” as a tribute to the first space shuttle each astronaut had flown aboard.

Nearly 19 hours later, Crew Dragon docked to the forward port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module May 31.

“On behalf of all SpaceX employees, thank you to NASA for the opportunity to return human spaceflight to the United States by flying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. “Congratulations to the entire SpaceX and NASA team on such an extraordinary mission. We could not be more proud to see Bob and Doug safely back home—we all appreciate their dedication to this mission and helping us start the journey towards carrying people regularly to low Earth orbit and on to the Moon and Mars. And I really hope they enjoyed the ride!”

Pictured above: Support teams and curious recreational boaters arrive at the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft shortly after it landed south of Pensacola.

Behnken and Hurley participated in a number of scientific experiments, spacewalks and public engagement events during their 62 days aboard station. Overall, the astronaut duo spent 64 days in orbit, completed 1,024 orbits around Earth and traveled 27,147,284 statute miles.

The Demo-2 test flight is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which has worked with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil to the space station for the first time since 2011. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Photos courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls and others for, click to enlarge.

Pictured above: NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley waves to onlookers as he boards a plane at Naval Air Station Pensacola to return him and NASA astronaut Robert Behnken home to Houston a few hours after the duo landed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola.


14 Responses to “Pensacola Splashdown: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Returns To Gulf Of Mexico (With Photo Gallery)”

  1. Mary Ann on August 8th, 2020 10:28 pm

    Did you know that Tommy McGuire, one of Pensacola’s own and now working for SpaceX, was part of the SpaceX recovery team? Great job Tommy!

  2. judy on August 5th, 2020 8:38 am

    God Bless the USA!

  3. Thomas Paine on August 3rd, 2020 8:51 pm


    Buildup of fuel gases around the capsule could be indicative of a leak somewhere. They let levels fall to rule out such a leak. Opening the hatch could cause inadvertent ignition of any remaining gases. The hatch is also equipped with emergency explosive bolts in case of an emergency exit. All precautions are necessary to make sure needless accidents don’t happen.

    Also, astronauts of the past that walked across carrier decks from recovery helicopters in the early years of the space program were spending only a few days or even just a few hours in zero gravity. Astronauts returning today are often coming back from the ISS where they have spent months in zero gravity and are significantly weaker under gravity than they were when they left. Exercise is done on the ISS to counteract this, but it still takes its toll. If you watch the Soyuz capsule recoveries of the past couple decades, the astronauts are helped from the capsule and then placed in big chairs and carried to medical tents. In many cases the astronauts could probably walk to the recovery area, but again, precautions must be taken.

  4. mat on August 3rd, 2020 5:56 pm

    How many frequent flyer miles credit do you get when you
    fly 27,147,284 miles?

  5. Charlie on August 3rd, 2020 4:55 pm

    I did notice the boat going quickly by with the Trump flag, & was surprised at so many non mission private boats being allowed so close. Maybe they weren’t allowed, but no one to stop them? Was very surprised it took over an hour for them to open the hatch, over a supposed high reading of gases (good thing no emergency inside), when all of those close to the outside of the capsule were only wearing virus type masks, & nothing that would protect from unwanted gases. After over an hours wait to exit the capsule, & time to readjust to gravity, was a gurney really needed to cart them away? I can remember back to the old capsule recoveries where astronauts were standing & walking on flight decks, minutes after exit from capsules.

  6. Citizen on August 3rd, 2020 3:53 pm

    Yep the Trump 2020 boat flag wins the photo bomb!! I don’t see it here. I saw it on an international article and they were saying “Trump fans are the best!”, not the shame on you like the leftist fake news.

    Trump 2020–Keep America–America

    The fools trying to usher in communism because “capitalism bad–socialism good” are trying to think they have us fooled.

    You can fool some of the people some of the time.

    Great Photos.

    I kept thinking about the I Dream of Jeanie theme song during the splashdown.

    Public/private partnerships work.

  7. Just saying on August 3rd, 2020 2:54 pm

    I don’t care what kind of flag the unauthorized boaters flew. They presented a safety hazard the coast guard wasn’t prepared to deal with.

  8. molino resident on August 3rd, 2020 1:35 pm

    Wow. Absolutely wonderful. And to think they came down in little ole’ Pensacola waters.

    I do like your comment Tom Lunsford. Too funny.

  9. Anne on August 3rd, 2020 11:32 am

    Thank God all went Perfectly from launch to splashdown.
    Amazing to watch on tv and the NASA feed on laptop, WOW.
    Thank YOU to every hand and mind that went into making this happen.
    God Bless this United States of America.

  10. tom Lunsford on August 3rd, 2020 10:54 am

    @ Sam, you’re just sour because you had no way to watch this historic event. Bet you would have been right there had you had the means

  11. Tom on August 3rd, 2020 10:50 am

    That capsule is fully automated and huge on the inside compared to past capsules, don’t let the photos fool you. Now we no longer need to may the Russians $81 million per seat on there cramped Soyuz. I also noticed the civilian spectators very close to the capsule. There lucky a parachute didn’t plop on top of there boat or worse yet the capsule. Should have been escorted a distance away for at the very least security reasons.

  12. Edward on August 3rd, 2020 10:41 am

    Hope everyone saw the boat pass by with the Trump flag. The announcers were very quiet when that happened

  13. sam on August 3rd, 2020 6:28 am

    and like true goobers some of the locals rush out to the site to get in the way.

  14. Justice on August 3rd, 2020 4:40 am

    True American heroes and brave men.

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