SpaceX's historic Demo-2 Crew Dragon astronaut test flight: Full coverage

Splashdown Timeline (EDT)

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft reenters Earth's atmosphere in this still from a SpaceX animation of how the Demo-2 mission works.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

Crew wakeup: 7:40 a.m. EDT
Dragon trunk separation: 1:51 p.m. EDT
Deorbit burn: 1:56 p.m. EDT
Nosecone closes: 2:11 p.m. EDT
Reentry begins: 2:36 p.m. EDT
Main parachutes deploy: 2:45 p.m. EDT
Splashdown: 2:48 p.m. EDT

Updated Aug. 2 at 4:20 p.m. EDT.

The first SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts successfully returned to Earth Aug. 2 to end a historic two-month test flight for NASA. See our full coverage of the historic mission below.

Elon Musk's space company launched its first crewed mission, a test flight called Demo-2 to send NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on a Crew Dragon capsule. It lifted off from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The Crew Dragon capsule splashed down on Earth Sunday (Aug. 2) at approximately 2:48 p.m. EDT (1848 GMT). A post-splashdown briefing will begin no earlier than 4:45 p.m. EDT (2045 GMT).

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What's Crew Dragon?

SpaceX's Crew Dragon is a crewed spacecraft designed to fly astronauts on round trips to the International Space Station for NASA. 

In 2014, NASA picked SpaceX as one of two companies (Boeing was the other) to fly astronaut taxi missions to the space station. Crew Dragon is a crewed version of SpaceX's Cargo Dragon spacecraft, an unpiloted vehicle that has been making resupply flights to the station for NASA since 2012. 

SpaceX's Crew Dragon will carry up to four astronauts on regular taxi trips, but the capsule itself can fit up to seven people in all. It launches into space on a Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX's workhorse booster.

Related: SpaceX's Crew Dragon space capsule explained (infographic)

Both vehicles are reusable, with SpaceX regularly landing Falcon 9 first stages and flying them later. SpaceX has also reused several Dragon cargo vehicles and aims to do the same with Crew Dragon. 

Unlike Cargo Dragon, the Crew Dragon spacecraft has an emergency abort system designed to separate the capsule from its rocket in the event of a launch emergency. SpaceX demonstrated that system in a successful test earlier this year. 

Crew Dragon's service module has a series of sleek fins, as well as solar arrays mounted directly to its hull, rather than in deployable panels like its cargo-only counterpart. 

Who's flying?

As odd as it may seem, Crew Dragon has two commanders. 

The crew for Demo-2 are veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Behnken is the mission's joint operations commander while Hurley is Crew Dragon spacecraft commander. Both men have flown to space multiple times. 

Robert "Bob" L. Behnken, 49, has flown two space shuttle missions to the International Space Station and served as NASA's Chief Astronaut from 2012 to 2015. He launched on the STS-123 mission to deliver Japan's Kibo laboratory to the station in 2008, and later flew STS-130 on Endeavour to deliver the Tranquility module. Behnken has performed six spacewalks and logged more than 29 days in space to date.

A native of St. Ann, Missouri, Behnken is a U.S. Air Force colonel and test pilot with a doctorate from Caltech in mechanical engineering. He joined NASA's astronaut corps in July 2000.

Behnken is married to Megan McArthur (also a NASA astronaut). They have one son. You can follow Behnken on Twitter at @AstroBehnken.

Douglas G. Hurley, 53, is retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who joined NASA's astronaut corp in 2000 in the same class as Behnken. Hurley has flown on two shuttle missions, the STS-127 mission on Endeavour in 2009 and the STS-135 mission on Atlantis in 2011. Both missions hauled fresh supplies and gear to the station. Hurley's second shuttle flight was NASA's final mission of the space shuttle program. 

Hurley hails from Apalachin, New York and served as a pilot and test pilot for the U.S. Marine Corp. He has degree in civil engineering from Tulane University in Louisiana and is married to fellow NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg. They have one son. Hurley has logged just over 27 days in space. You can follow him on Twitter at @Astro_Doug.

How it lands

Like its uncrewed counterpart, the Crew Dragon spacecraft is equipped with a heat shield and parachutes to return to Earth. 

Once a landing day was identified for the Demo-2 mission, Behnken and Hurley packed the spacecraft with items to return to Earth and prepared for undocking. On undocking day, scheduled for Aug. 1, Crew Dragon will back away from the station and slowly make its way outside a so-called "keep-out sphere," a safety zone around the orbiting laboratory. 

Crew Dragon will then return to Earth the following day. Ahead of reentry, the spacecraft will jettison its stubby service module (which contains its solar arrays and other systems) and position itself heat shield down for the plunge through Earth's atmosphere. 

After reentry, Crew Dragon will deploy four parachutes to slow its descent further. The spacecraft will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean just off of Florida's East Coast where a SpaceX recovery ship will be ready to retrieve Behnken and Hurley within an hour after landing.

Related: How NASA's Demo-2 astronauts will make a historic splashdown

Crew Dragon future

SpaceX's Crew Dragon is not a one-customer vehicle. 

While SpaceX will be one of two commercial companies to fly people to the space station for NASA (Boeing is the other), its Crew Dragon vehicle will not only carry astronauts for the U.S. space agency or its partners. SpaceX has made agreements to fly space tourists on the spacecraft, and use a Crew Dragon to ferry passengers to the space station for another company.

For the space tourist deal, SpaceX has an agreement in place with the U.S. space tourism company Space Adventures to fly four passengers on a free-flying mission Crew Dragon as early as late 2021. That mission will last five days and send up to four people an orbital experience unlike any space tourist flight to date. The cost of that flight as not been released. 

SpaceX has also agreed to launch passengers to the International Space Station for the company Axiom Space, which is developing a new commercial module for the station. That mission will be a 10-day trip to the station for three private astronauts using a Crew Dragon spacecraft.


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020




August 2020

The 1st NASA astronauts to come home on SpaceX's Crew Dragon are ready for anything. Even seasickness: Every step of the way, spaceflight tends to disagree with the human body, and two astronauts looking to return to Earth this weekend are prepared for the possibility their stomachs may revolt at the harsh treatment.

July 2020

NASA astronauts set to ride a SpaceX Crew Dragon back to Earth for the 1st time this weekend: After a busy two months in space, the first two NASA astronauts to visit the International Space Station on a commercial vehicle are ready to come back to Earth — if the weather cooperates.

SpaceX, NASA watch weather for historic astronaut splashdown on Sunday: SpaceX is ready to return its first NASA astronaut crew to Earth, but a potential tropical cyclone brewing in the Atlantic could cause delays.

How NASA's Demo-2 astronauts will make a historic splashdown on Earth: Just over 45 years since the last American astronaut splashed down in the ocean, NASA and its partner SpaceX are set to land astronauts in the sea again on Aug. 2.

NASA announces astronauts to launch on SpaceX's Crew-2 Dragon in 2021: NASA and its international partners have officially assigned the astronauts to fly on SpaceX's Crew-2 mission in spring of 2021. The mission will be SpaceX's second operational Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station, following the upcoming Crew-1 astronaut mission, which is slated to launch in September.

SpaceX's historic 1st crewed mission set to end on Aug. 2: NASA is targeting an Aug. 2 splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean for the Demo-2 test flight, which sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on a Crew Dragon capsule, agency chief Jim Bridenstine announced July 17.

June 2020

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule looked 'pretty awesome' in spacewalk, astronaut says: NASA astronauts got a "pretty awesome" view of SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle docked with the International Space Station during a spacewalk on June 29.

SpaceX's 1st Crew Dragon for astronauts aces tests in space, could land Aug. 2: SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts, now parked at the International Space Station, has passed all its tests so far and could return to Earth on in early August, according to NASA.

NASA says SpaceX can reuse Crew Dragon capsules and rockets on astronaut missions (report): NASA astronauts will soon start flying on used SpaceX vehicles, if all goes according to plan. The agency has approved the use of preflown Crew Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets on SpaceX's crewed missions to the International Space Station. 

SpaceX's 1st Crew Dragon astronauts settle into life at the space station: NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken have settled into their new temporary home on board the International Space Station. During an interview with reporters on Monday (June 8), the astronauts spoke about their first week of activities in orbit and what it was like to see Earth from space amid protests for racial justice around the world. 

SpaceX Crew Dragon docking depicted on new Houston postmark: In commemoration of the historic docking — the first by a commercial spacecraft with astronauts on board — and to be ready for the SpaceX missions that are still to come, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has introduced a new pictorial postmark depicting the capsule and its destination. 

Astronauts ring Nasdaq opening bell from space after historic SpaceX launch: Three NASA astronauts rang in the opening of Nasdaq trading from the International Space Station June 2 to celebrate the historic flight of SpaceX's first crewed Dragon spacecraft over the weekend. The event, which connected the astronauts to the Nasdaq in Times Square via video link, was broadcast on a giant screen in the famed New York City landmark.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon has that 'new car smell' and flies 'totally different' than a NASA shuttle: When the hatch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft opened up to let two NASA astronauts inside the International Space Station on May 31, the astronaut who greeted them at the door got a strong whiff of "new car smell." 

Why does SpaceX's historic astronaut flight for NASA have two commanders? While most human spaceflight missions have one commander, Demo-2 has two. For this mission, Hurley serves as the Crew Dragon's spacecraft commander and Behnken as joint operations commander.

May 2020

SpaceX 'stowaway' revealed by crew as sons' dinosaur toy 'Tremor': A stowaway aboard SpaceX's first mission to launch astronauts to the International Space Station may have set a new record — the most sequins to enter Earth orbit.

SpaceX's 1st Crew Dragon with astronauts docks at space station in historic rendezvous: SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spaceship to carry astronauts slid into a dock at the International Space Station May 31, concluding a historic 19-hour voyage to for its veteran NASA crew.

Astronauts name SpaceX spaceship 'Endeavour' after retired shuttle: The first NASA astronauts to launch from the U.S. since the end of the space shuttle program have named their commercial spacecraft after one of the retired winged orbiters.

Tour SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship in orbit with NASA's Demo-2 astronauts (video): The NASA astronauts who launched on a SpaceX rocket May 30 invited the world into their spacecraft with a unique, live tour around their Crew Dragon capsule.

For the astronauts on SpaceX's Crew Dragon, space travel is all in the (NASA) family: Both Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are married to astronauts.

The touchscreen controls of SpaceX's Crew Dragon give astronauts a sci-fi way to fly in space: Veteran NASA astronauts who've flown countless vehicles as test pilots will have to cope with something out of the ordinary with SpaceX's Crew Dragon: touchscreens.

For SpaceX's historic astronaut launch, the stakes have never been higher: The stakes have never been higher for SpaceX, which is poised to become the first commercial spaceflight company to launch NASA astronauts to space.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon has a new space toilet for astronauts. But how does it work? SpaceX has a new toilet! So, to answer the burning question of every kid (and most adults): what is this space toilet like?

SpaceX, NASA give final 'go' for historic astronaut launch Wednesday: SpaceX is officially "go" to launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station this week after mission teams completed the final launch readiness review on Monday (May 25). But some bad weather could potentially cause delays.

Here's what SpaceX's 1st spaceship to carry astronauts looks like from space (satellite photos): A satellite has spotted SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon standing tall on a launch pad in Florida, ready for this week's historic crewed flight.

Meet the NASA astronauts launching on SpaceX's historic Crew Dragon test flight: Two veteran NASA astronauts are ready and excited to launch from Florida to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX spacecraft this week. But who are they?

Astronauts perform one last dress rehearsal for big SpaceX launch next week: On May 23, astronauts Bob Behknen and Doug Hurley (along with NASA and SpaceX mission teams) performed the "dry run" test for their upcoming test flight on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

How SpaceX's sleek spacesuit changes astronaut fashion from the space shuttle era: A new breed of spaceship requires a new breed of spacesuits.

Trump will watch SpaceX's 1st astronaut launch for NASA in person: Trump told reporters at the White House that he may fly to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the historic Demo-2 mission's launch from Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX Crew Dragon reaches launchpad for historic NASA astronaut launch: Crew Dragon has arrived at Launch Pad 39A ahead of next week's launch.

SpaceX will make history with NASA astronaut launch next week. But will it draw crowds to Florida? NASA's first crewed launch with a commercial partner was supposed to be a triumphant return for Florida's Space Coast. As for so many milestones this year, a global pandemic has changed that calculus.

NASA astronauts arrive at launch site for historic SpaceX test flight: Veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 20, ready to take off on SpaceX's historic Demo-2 test flight. 

SpaceX just one week away from launching 1st astronauts on Crew Dragon for NASA: SpaceX is scheduled to launch Demo-2 next Wednesday (May 27), a mission that will send NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station.

Lost in space: Before SpaceX can 'capture the flag,' an astronaut had to find it: It might be the most high-profile, if not also the highest game of "capture the flag" ever played.

NASA human spaceflight chief Doug Loverro resigns on eve of historic SpaceX launch: NASA's human spaceflight chief Doug Loverro has stepped down just a week ahead of a historic SpaceX crew launch for the U.S. space agency.

SpaceX's 1st Dragon capsule for astronauts arrives at launch site for historic mission: The spacecraft that will fly SpaceX's first-ever crewed mission has reached the launch site ahead of next week's epic liftoff.

Astronauts enter a routine quarantine for historic SpaceX Crew Dragon launch: Astronauts entered quarantine on May 13 to prepare for a historic launch to space.

NASA and SpaceX are now less than two weeks from a historic crew launch: SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft is less than two weeks from launching astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time, but some big obstacles still stand in the way.

Astronauts to ride NASA-adorned Tesla Model X to SpaceX launchpad: The first NASA astronauts to launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket will have more than one new ride designed by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk: a Tesla Model X.

The NASA monopoly on US orbital spaceflight is ending: NASA's monopoly on American activities in low-Earth orbit is ending, and that's just what the space agency wants.

NASA and 'Kerbal Space Program' challenge gamers to recreate historic SpaceX launch to space station: NASA and the makers of "Kerbal Space Program 2" are looking for gamers with the right stuff to recreate SpaceX's Demo-2 Crew Dragon mission.

Hey, Class of 2020! SpaceX and NASA want to launch your photo on historic Dragon flight: If you're a student, you can become a part of spaceflight history.

How SpaceX's Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission will work in 13 steps: Here's a step-by-step explainer of what will happen during SpaceX's first Crew Dragon mission with astronauts, from prelaunch preparations to splashdown.

You can dock a SpaceX Crew Dragon at the space station in this free simulator: If you always wanted to pilot a spaceship, here's your big chance to simulate the experience.

After Demo-2: SpaceX is already prepping for 1st operational Crew Dragon mission: SpaceX's first crewed mission is just the beginning, and the company is already gearing up for what comes next.

With SpaceX's Dragon, NASA astronauts will ride a new spaceship for the 1st time in decades: It's been nearly nine years since an American vehicle launched astronauts into orbit. This month, SpaceX and NASA aim to change that in an unprecedented test flight six years in the making.

How long will the 1st astronauts to ride SpaceX's Crew Dragon be in space? No one knows exactly (yet): Two NASA astronauts will make history this month when they fly to the International Space Station in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. But how long their mission will last has yet to be determined.

Two NASA astronauts are ready to try something completely new: Ride a SpaceX spaceship: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are excited and prepared to launch to space this month.

How the coronavirus pandemic has affected SpaceX's 1st crewed mission for NASA: The coronavirus pandemic threw a pretty big curveball at the planners of SpaceX's first crewed mission.

SpaceX aces final parachute test ahead of historic May 27 crew launch: SpaceX wrapped up the 27th and final drop test of Crew Dragon's upgraded parachute system on May 1, apparently clearing the path for the Demo-2 mission later this month.

April 2020

'Uphill battle': SpaceX overcame obstacles on road to historic 1st crew launch: The plan was always to have private spacecraft such as SpaceX's Crew Dragon fill the space shuttle's shoes, but it was far from clear that everything would work out.

SpaceX on target for milestone May 27 crew launch, safety panel says: SpaceX remains on track to launch astronauts next month despite a few remaining issues, members of a NASA advisory panel said on April 23.

NASA chief to space fans: Don't travel to Florida to watch SpaceX's 1st astronaut launch: As NASA tackles the coronavirus pandemic with the rest of the nation, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine urges and warns space enthusiasts to stay home for next month's historic launch.

SpaceX, NASA target May 27 for 1st Crew Dragon test flight with astronauts: SpaceX and NASA are targeting May 27 for the first launch of American astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil in nine years. They'll fly on a Crew Dragon space capsule.

Take a wild ride with SpaceX in this 'emergency egress' test for Crew Dragon (video): NASA and SpaceX took yet another step toward a historic crewed spaceflight next month, this time prepping for a worst-case scenario on the launch pad.

SpaceX encounters problem just before Crew Dragon parachute test: SpaceX just experienced a hiccup in the leadup to its first crewed flight. 

NASA's famous 'worm' logo crawls back into action on SpaceX rocket: NASA's famous worm logo, which was retired in 1992, is roaring back to help celebrate the return of orbital human spaceflight to American soil.

March 2020

SpaceX, NASA aim for historic crew launch in mid-May despite coronavirus outbreak: Despite the coronavirus outbreak, SpaceX still plans to launch its first-ever crewed mission just two months from now.

SpaceX optimistic about May crewed mission as launch industry leaders monitor coronavirus: Leaders in the commercial space industry are optimistic that the coronavirus outbreak won't unduly affect the launch industry, while SpaceX is confident in a May timeline to loft humans for the first time.

SpaceX celebrates Crew Dragon's 1st launch anniversary with epic video: One year ago, SpaceX took a giant leap forward for private spaceflight with the launch of its first Crew Dragon to the ISS, and the company is celebrating that feat with an epic new video.

February 2020

SpaceX Crew Dragon arrives at launch site for the 1st orbital crew flight from US soil since 2011: A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule arrived on Florida's Space Coast on Feb. 13, completing a cross-country trek from the company's California headquarters.

January 2020

SpaceX may try to catch Crew Dragon capsules with a giant net. (No, really.): SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronaut taxis may not always cap their missions with ocean splashdowns.

Watch how SpaceX's Crew Dragon will launch astronauts into space in this new video: If you're not yet hyped about the upcoming first crewed flight of SpaceX's astronaut taxi, a new video could help get you there.

From the vault:

You may be interested in this 2011 story about SpaceX's first commercial crew contract. And this 2014 piece details the company's receipt of a $2.6 billion deal to complete development on the Crew Dragon-Falcon 9 system and fly six operational missions to and from the ISS for NASA. (Boeing got a similar deal, as that story reports.)

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.