SpaceX nears final test with its first return of NASA astronauts

Sunday, 02 Aug, 2020

The potential splashdown sites are in the Gulf of Mexico and along Florida's Atlantic coast.

"The water landing portion of it is pretty challenging from a physiological standpoint, just after coming back from being in microgravity", Hurley, a veteran of two shuttle missions, told reporters in a phone briefing on Friday.

The Soyuz 23 mission in October 1976 accidentally landed in Lake Tengiz in the middle of blizzard. "It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do".

It was the first time in nine years that American astronauts blasted off into space from American soil.

That said, bobbing in the sea awaiting recovery while re-adjusting to gravity after an extended stay in weightlessness raises the prospect of post-splashdown nausea and seasickness.

The homecoming of Douglas and Robert after more than two months at the ISS will mark the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station.

Crew members for that mission are to be NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The next SpaceX crew flight is targeted for the end of September. "But the most important part is bringing us home".

In a never seen like before moment, two United States astronauts are scheduled to make the first splashdown return in 45 years to Earth this weekend in SpaceX capsule.

In a post-launch conference back in May, Elon Musk - who is the founder of SpaceX - said was was not keen to "declare victory yet", emphasising that the "return can be more risky than the ascent".

The plan could be adjusted, before or after the docking, if the weather forecast changes. "All that energy you put in [during launch], you have to take every bit of that energy out when you come home".

Share this article: The Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

Less than ten minutes later, at 7:40 pm EDT (21:40 UTC), the spacecraft will perform the first of three departure burns, firing its Draco thrusters in order to separate itself from the ISS.

The astronauts have spent two months on the orbiting space lab.

Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to return to Earth on August 2.

Assuming the weather cooperates and no technical issues crop up, Behnken and Hurley would undock from the station's forward port around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, spend the night aboard the Crew Dragon, and then fire their braking rockets around 1:50 p.m. Sunday for a splashdown in the Gulf around 2:42 p.m. NASA will make a final call on whether to proceed approximately six hours prior to undocking. NASA has seven possible landing sites off the Coast of Florida. A NASA spokesperson said Friday that officials are now aiming to land the capsule near Panama City, Florida, reports CNN.

Live coverage of the Dragon's return is due to start at 5:15 p.m. ET (2:15 p.m. PT) and continue through splashdown.

A SpaceX recovery ship staffed by engineers, medical personnel and fast-response support crews with jet skis and other gear will be stationed nearby to recover the capsule. There, the crew will emerge from the capsule and receive all necessary medical test and checkouts.