Former United States President Barack Obama welcomed the two astronauts Bob Behnken and Col. Doug Hurley and congratulated them for successfully returning to Earth after a 63-day voyage aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on Sunday. Obama, during his Presidency, had launched the Commercial Crew Program to strengthen and expand the US space Program. NASA formed its partnerships with SpaceX and Boeing under his administration.
Taking to Twitter the former President said, "This historic NASA-SpaceX mission is a symbol of what American ingenuity and inventiveness can achieve."
Welcome home, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! We launched the Commercial Crew program to strengthen our U.S. space program and it's been great to see its success. This historic NASA-SpaceX mission is a symbol of what American ingenuity and inventiveness can achieve. pic.twitter.com/vvOSopBUdP— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 2, 2020
Behnken and Hurley made history when they became the first people to be launched into low-Earth orbit on a commercial spacecraft built by SpaceX. Their successful landing into waters near the coast of Pensacola, Florida, marked the first historic splashdown in almost 50 years. NASA's last water landing closed out in July 1975 with the Apollo-Soyuz outer space mission.
The splashdown marked the first return of a commercially built and operated US spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station, wrapping up NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. The mission, Demo-2, also marked the first time NASA had launched astronauts from US soil in nine years. The NASA astronauts were blasted off from the Cape Canaveral on May 30.
NASA's Commercial Crew Program aims to conduct human spaceflights to and from the International Space Station using crafts manufactured by SpaceX and Boeing. The initiative's final goals seek to expand NASA's capabilities for low-orbit transportation, potentially allowing people to travel to the International Space Station for corporate research, utility repairs and tourism. In turn, delegating these pursuits to private partners allows NASA to prioritize deep-space exploration.