The splash down return is considered the most dangerous stretch of the mission. The Crew Dragon capsule was traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour, and as it began the final leg of its descent, the Crew Dragon capsule’s exterior heated up to about 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit as it sliced back into the thickest part of Earth’s atmosphere. Inside the spacecraft cabin, the passengers were protected by a heat shield and the temperature should’ve stayed below 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Crew Dragon then deployed sets of parachutes as it plummeted toward the Atlantic Ocean. Rescue crews waiting near the splash down site hauled the spacecraft out of the ocean and on to a special boat, called the “Dragon’s nest,” where final safety checks took place before the crew disembarked.
For each mission, bringing on the necessary support from NASA astronauts will cost commercial customers $5.2 million, and all the mission support and planning that NASA lends is another $4.8 million. While in space, food alone costs an estimated $2,000 per day, per person. Getting provisions to and from the space station for a commercial crew is another $88,000 to $164,000 per person, per day.
But the extra days the AX-1 crew spent in space due to weather won’t add to their own personal overall price tag, according to a statement from NASA.
“Knowing that International Space Station mission objectives like the recently conducted Russian spacewalk or weather challenges could result in a delayed undock, NASA negotiated the contract with a strategy that does not require reimbursement for additional undock delays,” the statement reads.
But AX-1 was the first with a crew entirely comprised of private citizens with no active members of a government astronaut corps accompanying them in the capsule during the trip to and from the ISS. It’s also the first time private citizens have traveled to the ISS on a US-made spacecraft.