Article image Hurricane might delay SpaceX-NASA return trip from ISS

Crew-1’s Merlin Vacuum engine – but not the integrated upper stage – completed its own acceptance test around the same time

This photo provided by NASA shows from left, astronauts Bob Behnken, Chris Cassidy and Doug Hurley during an interview on the International Space Station on Friday, July 31, 2020.

That mission will launch four astronauts - Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi - to the space station, sometime in late September. The current preferred splashdown zone is just south of Panama City.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission has been smooth sailing so far for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft is certified for around 114 days in space. "My son is six years old and I can tell from the videos that I get and from talking to him on the phone that he's changed a lot", Behnken said.

NASA plans for the spacecraft, named Endeavour by the astronauts aboard, to undock from the International Space Station at 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday and splash down at 2:42 p.m. Sunday. After that is the splashdown: The capsule is expected to land in the ocean some 22 to 175 nautical miles off of Florida's coast.

The ocean landings come after a 45-year hiatus and hark back to NASA's Apollo program, which saw astronauts splash into the Pacific Ocean with retrieval by ships.

Behnken and Hurley, whose flight was the first to take place in a commercially-built spacecraft, are scheduled to depart the International Space Station on Saturday evening and splash down off the Florida coast Sunday.

He later said in a press briefing: "We can not wait to get Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley back to Earth". "We could stay up here longer". "And then your vestibular system, your inner ears, play tricks with you".

But even before their mission is completed, SpaceX is already deep into planning for the next one.

"We will continue to monitor weather before undocking Saturday night". "It will be the first time in this particular vehicle, if we do".

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"The ground teams are fully aware of the challenges of the water landing and what it does to the human body", Hurley said.

Flight surgeons and members of the recovery team will be present during this period. "So all those things are in place and other than that, it's just time to go give it a try and and see how it goes".

The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA's long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost-while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.

But Boeing's program has floundered badly after a failed test run late a year ago, which left SpaceX, a company founded only in 2002, as clear frontrunner. Their flight marked the first time people had been launched to orbit from U.

NASA wants six weeks between the splashdown and the launch of the next Dragon crew, for capsule inspections and reviews. "From my perspective, what we're really looking for in all of our missions is sustainability", he said.



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