NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have made history again. They launched into orbit two months ago as part of the first manned commercial crew in U.S. history and first space launch from American soil in nearly a decade. Today, Behnken and Hurley’s return home was completed after plunging into the water off the coast of Florida – marking the first water landing since the last Apollo mission in 1975.

NASA TV broadcast of splashdown off the coast of Florida

Behnken, a St. Louis County native and Washington University graduate, is also a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force. His mission was to try out the commercial aircraft on its journey to and from the International Space Station.

Despite a tropical storm in the region, Behnken and Hurley had a smooth splashdown near Pensacola Naval Air Station. Several parachutes helped in the landing of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

Mission control dispatched a welcome home to the astronauts.

The hatch is opened and NASA astronaut Bob Behnken emerges from the capsule

“Thank you for flying SpaceX.”

Two boats gathered near the splashdown location to get the capsule out of the water. Crews then opened the hatch to let Behnken and Hurley breath fresh air for the first time in 64 days.

“I just wanted to thank you guys for bringing us home safe before we disembark from the ship Endeavor,” Behnken tells the NASA and SpaceX crews. “Thank you for doing the most difficult parts and the most important parts of human space flight – getting us into orbit and bringing us home safely.”

Another Crew Dragon spacecraft is preparing to launch another mission, called Crew-1, carrying NASA astronauts Victor Glover, southern Missouri native Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi of Japan.

Next spring, Megan McArthur, Behnken’s wife and fellow astronaut, along with NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, Akihiko Hoshide of Japan and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency will make a trip to the International Space Station.

Earlier stories:

Missouri astronaut makes history aboard first SpaceX flight:

Bad weather postpones Missouri astronaut’s trip to space:

Missouri astronaut prepares for historic SpaceX launch:

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