The SpaceX Crew Dragon expedition was full of firsts. It was the first crewed orbital launch to depart from the United States since the final flight of the space shuttle fleet in July 2011. It was the first manned commercial space flight. And it was the first ocean landing return in over four decades, as the previous one occurred in 1975. So witnessing the splash landing of the Crew Dragon capsule and the safe return of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, signalling a successful end to this historic mission, was truly an amazing experience for many, especially those in younger generations who have never seen a live, return to Earth, ocean landing before. Student Ambassador Nicola said that this was the first all USA space mission she has personally witnessed (she was still quite young when the last space shuttle mission took place) and the first ocean landing during her lifetime.

Many of our One Giant Leap Australia Foundation Student Ambassadors were amongst those who anxiously watched the launch several months ago, then eagerly watched again recently as the astronauts Bob and Doug returned to Earth. All excited and anticipating the mission’s success but worrying about all the things that could go wrong. The relief and elation when the capsule splashed down, and then the astronauts’ safety was confirmed, was felt by so many around the world, who then let out a collective sigh of relief.
Student Ambassador Shalin spoke of her experience watching the mission from beginning to end. She says the anticipation of the launch was almost overwhelming as it was the first launch she had ever watched in her life. The initial countdown had her sweating due to nerves- she felt as if she were about to launch with the astronauts! Shalin felt great joy when the launch was successful and relief when she later learned that they had made it safely to the International Space Station. To then see the mission be completed with a safe return to Earth was such an amazing experience and has just served to fuel Shalin’s interest in astronomy and space. She feels incredibly lucky to be living in this time and being witness to space exploration really taking off again.

Photo 1: SpaceX Dragon Capsule (Image credit: FLICKR/GPL)] Photo 2: SpaceX Crew Dragon Landing (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Photo 3: SpaceX Crew Dragon Landing Splashdown (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Photos 4: SpaceX Dragon Landing Retrieval (Image credit: NASATV)

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