Update: Below, we have the SpaceX return video replay in case you missed this weekend's events. Check out the videos further down the page.
Two NASA astronauts have returned to Earth, concluding SpaceX's live coverage of their journey from the International Space Station (ISS) to the Gulf of Mexico.
Good news: everything went according to plan: SpaceX Crew Dragon astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley splashed down off the coast of Florida at 2:44pm EDT on Sunday, August 2 and, eventually, a NASA team opened the hatch of their capsule after recovering the space vehicle.
You can watch the historic SpaceX live video below, from undocking from the ISS to the NASA press conference after the astronauts and capsule were recovered.
In total, the astronauts spent two months and three days in the SpaceX capsule and onboard ISS, returning today by landing in the waters off the coast of Florida (on the West coast of the state, not the East side where Hurricane Isaias is tracking).
Why this SpaceX return matters
It's a dramatic ending to America's first space mission from US soil in nearly a decade, when the NASA Space Shuttle was retired (on this month back in August 2011, actually). It also marks the conclusion of the first commercially-backed human space travel mission, which is a big deal for the future of affordable space travel.
Want one more fascinating SpaceX fact? It's the first splashdown return to Earth for US astronauts in about 45 years. Remember: the shuttle program was very different from launch to landing. The difference between today and 45 years ago is that the recovery crew is noticeably slimmed down – no US Navy fleet present – another sign of sustainability for affordable modern space travel.
Just as we covered the SpaceX launch, and then followed NASA's 'Bob and Doug', as they made their way from Earth's orbit to their landing site. Here's how to watch the final moments of the SpaceX mission below.
SpaceX return video: rewatch it right here
The SpaceX return was live streaming on various video platforms (the future is great, isn't it?), and since it's all over, you can rewatch the splashdown. SpaceX's YouTube videos captured the two astronauts from their prep on ISS in space to their landing in the Gulf of Mexico on Earth.
First up: Here's the SpaceX undocking video on Saturday, August 1.
We are 'GO' for undocking of the @SpaceX Dragon Endeavour from @Space_Station. Our #LaunchAmerica crew aboard the spacecraft confirms their visors are down, and they are ready for departure: pic.twitter.com/otZPvYH18wAugust 1, 2020
Here's the SpaceX video replay of their splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico:
Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed! Welcome back to Earth, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! pic.twitter.com/0vAS3CcK9PAugust 2, 2020
Here's the Dragon capsule being loaded up onto a ship for recovery:
.@AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug have been lifted out of the water and are aboard the Go Navigator. Welcome home. #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/gjqUcLMy8XAugust 2, 2020
Here's the hatch opening after the capsule was recovered:
"To anybody who has touched Endeavour, you should take a moment to just cherish this day." Touching words from @Astro_Doug as @AstroBehnken is safely brought out of the spacecraft. #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/0yKUWbD9EdAugust 2, 2020
SpaceX return schedule: here's when it happened
The SpaceX return time was scheduled for 2:42pm EDT. Of course, tuning in early was a wise idea simply because you didn't want to start the SpaceX live stream video right when they're splashing down into the water. That would be like watching the ending to a movie and skipping the big buildup.
Worldwide, this meant the SpaceX return time was 11:42am PDT (in California where SpaceX is located), 7:42pm BST, and the next morning 4:42am AEST.
What happens after this SpaceX return
The SpaceX landing live stream today ended the Demo-2 mission for the two NASA astronauts, but there will be an intense review of all data for certification, according to NASA. That's the benefit of reusable rockets: it makes space travel cheaper, but that you can better evaluate stress on everything involved in the launch.
In late September, barring any delays, the LC-39A launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, will host the next set of NASA astronauts to go to space: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. They will fly Dragon’s first six-month operational mission (Crew-1).
You can watch the SpaceX crew here in these two NASA videos:
"It's just a great time to be at NASA." One of our @NASA_Astronauts assigned to the next @SpaceX flight to the @Space_Station, @VicGlover, congratulates the #LaunchAmerica crew for a job well done: pic.twitter.com/gtVmbmQydLAugust 2, 2020
"Diversity brings the resilience to this crew." @Astro_Soichi of @JAXA_en is honored to be a part of the Crew-1 mission, the next @SpaceX flight to the @Space_Station. pic.twitter.com/6gvKlvdarTAugust 2, 2020