About three months ago astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

Following a brief stay at the ISS, Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth on Sunday.

The Crew Dragon splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Pensacola. Of note, is that according to NASA, this is the first splashdown for American astronauts since 24th July 1975.

According to a report by Independent, the spacecraft was slowed to 560kmph from 28 163kmph as it entered the atmosphere. By the time Crew Dragon hit the Gulf of Mexico it was travelling just 24kmph.

“On behalf of the SpaceX and NASA teams, welcome back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX,” SpaceX said as the spacecraft splashed down.

“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,” SpaceX president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, said in a statement.

But the horse and pony show is far from over.

Now that Crew Dragon and the astronauts are back on terra firma, the spacecraft will be sent to SpaceX’s aptly named Dragon Lair for inspection and processing.

According to NASA, teams will examine data and performance from throughout the test flight. Should everything pass NASA’s certifications then Crew Dragon will be ferrying astronauts to the ISS as soon as September.

“Congratulations to the NASA and SpaceX teams for the incredible work to make this test flight possible,” NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a statement.

“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,” added Bridenstine.

[Source – NASA][Image – NASA/Bill Ingalls]