SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft will be returning from the International Space Station to bring NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, home after their historic ‘Launch America’ mission.
NASA astronauts returning home on SpaceX craft
NASA is targeting 2 August 2020 for splashdown of the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico at 14:41 Eastern Time, or rather, 20:41 SAST in South Africa.
However, NASA’s webcast will be going live at 23:15 SAST today already, if you want to, share in Bob and Doug’s journey home from the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA confirmed that conditions are Go at the primary targeted site, off the coast Pensacola, and alternate site off the coast of Panama City in the Gulf of Mexico for splashdown and recovery.
SpaceX prepared for hurricane threat
SpaceX and NASA teams will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Isaias and evaluate impacts on the potential splashdown sites. The mission may still be postponed if the weather acts up.
Doug Hurley, one of the two astronauts, said in a farewell ceremony aboard the ISS that was broadcast on NASA TV.
“Now is the entry, descent and splashdown phase after we undock, hopefully, a little bit later today. The teams are working really hard, especially with the dynamics of the weather over the next few days around Florida.”
Watch: Bob and Doug are coming home!
Behnken shared a photo of his luggage on Twitter, saying he’s packed and ready to come home.
“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go”.
Hurley and Bob Behnken blasted off from Cape Canaveral on 30 May 2020 onboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule as part of the historic Launch America mission. At the time, Behnken said:
“The hardest part was getting us launched. But the most important part is bringing us home”.
It was the first time in nine years that American astronauts blasted off into space from American soil. Cheers went around the mission control as the first-stage booster of Falcon 9 separated cleanly and landed upright on the drone ship, off the Atlantic coast. A moment for the history books, indeed.
Launch America was also the first time a private company, SpaceX, flew to the ISS carrying astronauts. Moreover, all of SpaceX’s previous trips to the ISS had been to transport supplies.
The US has paid SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing a total of about $7 billion for their “space taxi” contracts. Since the shuttle program was disbanded in 2011, NASA has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, for a price of around $80 million per seat.