NASA astronauts driving SpaceX capsule poised for Sunday return

August 1

The two NASA astronauts who rode to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon are heading house for a Sunday splashdown within the Gulf of Mexico, capping a two-month voyage in house that marked NASA’s first crewed mission from house soil in 9 years.

Crew Dragon “Endeavor” decoupled from the orbital station at 7:35 p.m. ET carrying U.S. astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley forward of a Sunday afternoon splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida — the primary process of its type in a privately constructed house capsule.

“It’s been a great two months, and we appreciate all you’ve done as a crew to help us prove out Dragon on its maiden flight,” Hurley instructed the remaining U.S. station crew member Chris Cassidy, as Crew Dragon autonomously eased away from its docking port to start the 21-hour journey house.

NASA and SpaceX — monitoring the crew’s return from Houston, Texas and SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California — dominated out splashdown choices within the Atlantic earlier this week as a consequence of Tropical Storm Isaias, a cyclone anticipated to churn alongside Florida’s east coast as a hurricane within the coming days.

Upon a profitable splashdown at 2:48 p.m. ET Sunday, the spacecraft can have accomplished its remaining key take a look at to show it may possibly transport astronauts to and from house — a activity SpaceX has completed dozens of instances with its cargo-only capsule however by no means earlier than with people aboard.

“The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important part is bringing us home,” Behnken stated throughout a farewell ceremony early on Saturday aboard the house station.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX turned the primary non-public firm to ship people to orbit on May 31 with the launch of Behnken and Hurley, who can have spent greater than two months on the house station upon returning.

The mission marked the primary time NASA launched people from U.S. soil since its shuttle program retired in 2011. Since then the United States has relied on Russia’s house program to launch its astronauts to the house station.

NASA officers have stated Crew Dragon, an acorn-shaped pod that may seat as much as seven astronauts, has been in a “very healthy” situation since docking to the house station, the place astronauts have been conducting checks and monitoring how the spacecraft performs over time in house.

Behnken and Hurley can have a number of hours for sleep throughout their journey house within the capsule, which can steadily lower its orbital altitude by way of a collection of automated thruster firings.

“They’ve got plenty of food and water aboard the spacecraft,” SpaceX engineer Siva Bharadvaj stated throughout a livestream of the undocking.

NASA, aiming to impress a industrial house market, awarded practically $eight billion to SpaceX and Boeing Co collectively in 2014 to develop dueling house capsules, experimenting with a contract mannequin that enables the house company to purchase astronaut seats from the 2 firms.–Reuters

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