The first astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon are on their way back to Earth after two months at the International Space Station (ISS).
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley return to Earth aboard the Crew Dragon. Photo: NASA.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley boarded the Crew Dragon spacecraft and began a 19-hour journey back to Earth with the separation from the ISS station at 6:35 am on August 2. At the time, ISS and Crew Dragon were at an altitude of 430 km above Johannesburg, South Africa.
Crew Dragon, also known as Endeavor, will land at Pensacola, Florida at around 1:41 p.m. on August 3. But the landing location has not been pegged. NASA and SpaceX have selected seven different zones for the crew’s return flight, including four in the Gulf of Mexico and three off east Florida. The ground control team chooses a landing location based on the local weather and other factors such as the time it takes for the Crew Dragon to arrive and when the ship lands. About 6 hours before landing and 5 hours before the spacecraft leaves orbit to fly through the atmosphere, NASA and SpaceX will decide if the weather is suitable for landing in the water.
If the weather is not good, NASA and SpaceX will delay engine activation to get out of orbit until a safe landing. Crew Dragon has enough essentials for 3 days. Along with two astronauts, the ship also brought 150 kg of cargo back to Earth. About 90 kg of it is scientific materials such as biological specimens stored in freezers.
“These specimens come from many of the station’s biological experiments to broaden our understanding of how the human body adapts to microgravity or to consider how space is used to improve life on Earth. Land, “said Gary Jordan, NASA’s representative.
Behnken and Hurley also carried a stuffed dinosaur named Tremor, which was used as a marker of zero gravity when they flew to the station on May 30. The dinosaur was chosen by Theo, son of Behnken, and Jack, son of Hurley.
If landing goes well, SpaceX will begin manned launch missions to the ISS later this year. As scheduled, the Crew-1 mission to take off in September 2020 will bring three NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the orbital space station.
(According to Space)