NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are to return to earth on August 2 in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. The spacecraft also took the astronauts to space at May-end.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is the first private spacecraft to carry people to the orbit.
Their return to the earth will conclude a 64-day test flight of the Crew Dragon spaceship.
Both the astronauts will undock on August 1, at about at around 8 p.m. ET. Astronauts have named the spacecraft Endeavour, which will splashdown the Atlantic Ocean at about 3 p.m. ET, August 3.
If the weather is fine
The weather has a really huge role to play here. All the plans will go well only if the weather is favourable.
Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator tweeted about the same. “Splashdown is targeted for August 2. Weather will drive the actual date. Stay Tuned.”
At the moment both SpaceX and NASA are assessing the return zones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.”
Earlier, officials had selected landing sites in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola, Florida and Atlantic east of Cape Canaveral and Jacksonville.
NASA officials were evaluating more candidate locations for the splashdown of the spacecraft.
Having more landing option will provide the mission managers more flexibility in their decision to approve the spacecraft’s undocking and re-entry.
Behnken and Hurley will be the first NASA astronauts since 1975 to splashdown on their return to the earth.
Before them, Tom Stafford, Deke Slayton and Vance Brand had made the last water landing in an Apollo command module.
In an interview with Washington Post, Behnken talked from the space station about the water landing. He said that the biggest concern was that it hadn’t been done in a long time in the US – “splashing down in the water and then being recovered.”
Crew Dragon’s first mission
The main goal of Crew Dragon’s mission, Demonstration Mission-2 or DM-2, is to test the complete performance. It will determine if the spacecraft is ready to begin its regular crew rotation flights to space or not.
The return of the astronauts on August 2 will be the final test of the Crew Dragon. So far, according to NASA, Crew Dragon has performed well.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will have its next flight in mid-to-late September and it will carry four astronauts to the space station – if this return goes well.