Crew Dragon Astronauts Target Splashdown off Coast of Pensacola, Florida

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The anticipated top G forces felt by the crew: four to five times the force of Earth's gravity.

The re-entry caused a temporary communications blackou - brought on by an envelope of hot air surrounding the capsule.

A ship from SpaceX will be waiting to recover the astronauts from their capsule.

SpaceX easily beat Boeing, which isn't expected to launch its first crew until next year and will land in the US Southwest. But a thick heat shield will keep Behnken and Hurley safe inside.

It was the first water landing for a U.S. spacecraft since the Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975.

The Soyuz 23 mission in October 1976 accidentally landed in Lake Tengiz in the middle of blizzard.

A quartet of parachutes will have to slow the 21,200-pound capsule for a soft landing at sea.

The capsule is expected to reach its water landing at 2:42 pm ET Sunday if the weather remains favorable. The company will present steady dwell protection throughout the splashdown, exhibiting scenes from mission management facilities at each NASA and SpaceX.

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NASA now hopes to buy spaceflight and other services from private companies like SpaceX in order to help create an economy in orbit around the Earth, where the space agency can be a buyer of services instead of a provider.

Following the series of successful orientation burns, Behnken and Hurley were permitted to go to sleep aboard the capsule as Crew Dragon would spend the next nineteen hours orbiting the Earth ahead of its reentry, descent, and splashdown landing.

But Boeing's programme has floundered badly after a failed test run late previous year, which left SpaceX, a company founded only in 2002, as clear frontrunner. Until Hurley and Behnken rocketed into orbit, NASA astronauts relied on Russian rockets.

After initial medical checks, the astronauts will be flown by helicopter to a nearby airport where a NASA jet will be waiting to fly them back to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for debriefing and reunions with friends and family.

Crew members for that mission are to be NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on May 30 amid a blaze of publicity.

The Boeing organization is also building a "taxi provider" to the space station, but has had to delay its introduction after encountering software complications on its Starliner capsule.

Around 5 pm ET, the weather continued to look favorable for their return, and Behnken and Hurley began preparing their spacecraft for the return trip and strapped themselves in while officials finished all the system checks before giving the final go-ahead.

It will be the first splashdown for astronauts in 45 years.

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