NASA to have first splashdown with crew since 1975

It’s planned for around Aug 2nd with the Spacex Dragon Capsule and 2 astronauts. The last NASA splashdown was the Apollo-Soyuz project in 1975

Hunh. I didn’t realize that. Who will do the recovery? Why did NASA insist on ocean landings instead of land? Surely they are much more accurate now than 1975, although I recall Apollo usually being very accurate.

I assume Navy will do recovery like they did in the past. they send a few ships including a small carrier. This time they will land in the Atlantic , I think in the past they normally splashed down in the pacific. I am pretty sure Russia/Soviets have always landed on land, possibly one reason is secrecy. Seems like it’s easier and cheaper to land in the water , they just need big parachutes instead of another engine.

13 of the 29 orbital flights in '62-'75 splashed down in the Atlantic, including all Gemini except the Gemini 8 abort, as well as Apollos 7 and 9, so as of that last mission it was 13 out of 17 Atlantic. The moon Apollos changed the pattern for the Pacific. The deliberate Pacific splashdowns were mostly in the Central Pacific except the Skylabs which were off the West US Coast, which I imagine must have been a matter of the trajectory/orbital inclinations of these missions.

I think it was up to the private companies to decide. Boeing’s capsule will land on land.

Russia has a lot of empty land and somewhat limited access to the Pacific.

Soviet Union also didn’t have a very big navy. No helicopter carriers until 1967 and no larger ones until 1975. So recovery would have been a challenge in the ocean. If the capsule missed the target area, the US Navy would likely have been the first to get to the cosmonauts. That would have been embarrassing.

I don’t recall any mission prior to Apollo 8 so that’s why I don’t remember many Atlantic splashdowns.

Next mission will have 4 crew in the dragon capsule, this current mission with 2 guys is officially a test mission. Next mission is Sept.

The US generally launches out over water, so being prepared for a water landing is a big part of the system. Why have two systems (i.e. one for a water landing if something goes wrong, and one for a landing on land for a regular landing)? The Shuttle, of course, was designed to land as an air craft, so it’s a totally different system, even though it, also, was designed to launch over water. Basically, if it was landing on water it was crashing, so no point trying to have a secondary system. The Russians, but contrast, launch from land over land, so, again, why have two systems (besides, they didn’t and don’t have the large Navy required or the bases all over)?

I’m sure the US Navy will handle the recovery as they always have. This is still a NASA mission, even if the launch vehicle is privately owned. But it’s still an official US launch, so it would be natural for the Navy to simply continue the role.

If the space shuttle ran into a problem and could not get into orbit they had a base in Spain it could land on. I think there were other places they could land the shuttle besides Florida and California and White Sands NM. they had plans to launch the shuttle from CA but that was abandoned after Challenger explosion.

There were alternative shuttle landing sites all over the planet (I think some may have even been commercial airports).

As has been pointed out the Soviets launched over land so they designed their craft for ground landings. They also had a lot of sparsely populated territory and didn’t really have to worry about liability issues or bad PR if the landing resulted in private property damage or killed civilians. The Soyuz can land in water if necessary, but it’s only only as a last ditch emergency.

More damage occurs to a reusable capsule in a water landing, thus requiring more expense to ready it for another flight.

US has lot of sparsely populated land too. One capsule sank in 1961 but it was recovered in 1999

You’d need to look at the cost to benefit. Is the cost of more expensive repairs to reuse the thing less than the cost to have two systems? What about the weight requirements? I’m fairly sure that if SpaceX felt such a system was economically viable they would do it, since there is, afaik, no mandate from NASA that landings have to be on water.

The original plan was for propulsive landings on land.

Which was eliminated because of safety concerns, as well as added cost, weight and complexity. I’m not sure what you are getting at, to be honest. There are trade offs to both methods, and obviously the trade offs for SpaceX came down on the side of water landings as the least bad option for this version of the system that is putting humans back into space using a US company flying from US soil. Perhaps the next generation will use a different system.

The added cost and complexity for having the Crew Dragon approved for propulsive landings was mostly regulatory . The spacecraft itself is already capable of doing it with the built-in Super Draco engines. Getting NASA to sign off on it at the time just wasn’t worth the effort to Space X.

NASA admitted last week that they were harder on SpaceX for approvals since they were the new guys. Also said they were not as hard on Boeing which helped cause the Boeing problems.

I would love to see a Dragon land propulsively. It would be super cool, and they need that capability in order to land on Mars, their ultimate aim. No oceans there!

Thanks, Jordan.