NASA astronaut Bob Behnken has given a fascinating account of what it was like to re-enter Earth's atmosphere and jump into the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
Behnken and his astronaut colleague Doug Hurley returned from the International Space Station on Sunday, August 2, at the end of a 64-day mission in which the first astronauts were riding in the Crew Dragon, including the first launch and first landing on US – Territory marked since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
In an appearance on NASA television on Tuesday, Behnken described the re-entry – the most precarious part of the trip, in which the capsule is most stressed at extremely high speeds, which produce scorching hot temperatures on the outside of the spacecraft.
Behnken said the Crew Dragon had "really come alive" and sounded "like an animal" when it reentered the Earth's atmosphere.
Bumps, noise and the citation of old films – @AstroBehnken explains what it was like to re-enter the earth's atmosphere in the @ SpaceX Dragon Endeavor. #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/qOxVwGTYP9
– NASA (@NASA), August 4, 2020
"The atmosphere is starting to make noise," said the astronaut. "You can hear this rumble outside the vehicle, and while the vehicle is trying to control, you feel a little bit of this flickering in your body … we could feel and feel these small roles." Parking spaces and yaws and all these little movements were things we recorded in the vehicle. "
He continued: “As we went down through the atmosphere, the engines fired almost continuously. It doesn't sound like a machine, it sounds like an animal that comes through the atmosphere with all the trains that come from the engines and the atmosphere. ”
Behnken said he felt compelled to quote a line from an amusing scene in the 1985 comedy film Spies Like Us, in which Chevy Chase asked Dan Aykroyd, "Do you want some coffee?" after a strenuous G-Force training session in which hair and faces are pressed firmly back.
Behnken said when the capsule's parachutes were used to slow the vehicle's descent as it approached the water, it was "very much like hitting the back of a chair with a baseball bat, just cracking, and then." you would get some kind of movement associated with it … with the parachutes it was a pretty significant jerk. "
There was a strange moment seconds before spraying when their GPS altimeter, pointing to the feet, was not always very accurate, indicating that they were below zero, which he called "a bit surprising". But they quickly hit the water and saw it splash over the windows.
The 50-year-old NASA astronaut thanked the SpaceX team for the thorough training program, which even included providing audio clips that were recorded in the capsule during last year's Demo 1 test mission, giving Behnken and Hurley a better idea have what to expect on the way down.