By Kenneth Chang
The first astronaut trip to orbit by a private company parachuted to a safe conclusion in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.
It was the first water landing by NASA astronauts since 1975, when the agency’s crews were still flying to and from orbit in the Apollo modules used for the historic American moon missions.
Riding in a capsule built and operated by SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, two NASA astronauts — Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley — splashed down near Pensacola, Fla., on Sunday afternoon.
The Crew Dragon capsule, suspended under four giant billowing orange-and-white parachutes, settled upright into the water at a gentle pace of 15 miles per hour at 2:48 p.m. Eastern time.
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