Astronauts face closing leg of SpaceX take a look at flight: Coming dwelling

Cape Canaveral (US), August 1

A pair of NASA astronauts faces the ultimate and most essential a part of their SpaceX take a look at flight: returning to Earth with a uncommon splashdown.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken took half in a farewell ceremony on Saturday on the International Space Station, a number of hours forward of their deliberate departure on a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

Despite approaching Hurricane Isaias, NASA mentioned the climate appears beneficial for a Sunday afternoon splashdown within the Gulf of Mexico close to Panama City, Florida. It would be the first splashdown for astronauts in 45 years. The final time was following the joint US-Soviet mission in 1975 often called Apollo-Soyuz.

The astronauts’ homecoming will cap a two-month mission that ended a protracted launch drought within the US, which has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the area station for the reason that finish of the shuttle period.

In launching Hurley and Behnken from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on May 30, SpaceX turned the primary non-public firm to ship folks into orbit. Now SpaceX is on the verge of changing into the primary firm to convey folks again from orbit.

“The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important is bringing us home,” Behnken mentioned.

A profitable splashdown, Behnken mentioned, will convey US-crew launching functionality “full circle”. Space station commander Chris Cassidy, who will stay on board with two Russians till October, introduced Hurley with the small US flag left behind by the earlier astronauts to launch to the area station from US soil, in July 2011. Hurley was the pilot of that closing shuttle mission.

The flag — which additionally flew on the primary shuttle flight in 1981 — turned a prize for the corporate that launched astronauts first.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX simply beat Boeing, which isn’t anticipated to launch its first crew till subsequent 12 months and can land within the US Southwest. The flag has another flight after this one: to the moon on NASA’s Artemis program within the subsequent few years.

“We’re a little sad to see them go,” Cassidy mentioned, “but very excited for what it means to our international space program to add this capability” of economic crew capsules. The subsequent SpaceX crew flight is focused for the top of September.

Hurley and Behnken are also bringing again a glittery blue and purple dinosaur named Tremor. Their younger sons selected the toy to accompany their fathers on the historic mission. — AP

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