NASA astronauts head home after historic spaceflight

SpaceX's Crew Dragon uses four parachutes for a splashdown March 2019

NASA and SpaceX have picked out seven different landing sites along the east and west coasts of Florida, ranging from approximately 22 nautical miles from shore to 175.

Assuming NASA and SpaceX press ahead, a final decision on prime and backup landing sites is not expected until Saturday, based on the latest forecasts and assessments of the Crew Dragon's health. The current preferred splashdown zone is just south of Panama City.

In this image from video made available by NASA, astronauts Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken prepare for undocking from the International Space Station, aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020.

The return of the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to carry crew to the ISS will conclude the DEMO-2 test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. "There's more chow, and I know the space station program's got more work that we can do for the folks that have sent science up here to the space station".

Two sets of hooks were disconnected, and then the capsule started to float slowly away from the space station around 7:35 p.m.

Two recovery ships will be ready to speed to the spacecraft once it lands. The team will pull it on board, help the crew get out and render any medical assistance that might be necessary. -Soviet mission in 1975 known as Apollo-Soyuz.

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.

Mission chief Chris Cassidy called it an "exciting day" and said he was sad to see the pair leave the ISS, hailing the importance of having a new means to transport astronauts.

After Behnken and Hurley return to Earth, their spacecraft will undergo a series of inspections in Florida to assess how the vehicle performed throughout its flight. "And then your vestibular system, your inner ears, play tricks with you".

Getting back to Earth, though, will be the biggest test for the spacecraft. "We're going to do it from space and end up in the water", he added. "It would be the first time in this particular vehicle if we do".

Just in case, Hurley said Friday, "there are bags if (we) need them and we'll have those handy, we'll probably have some towels handy as well". "The water landing portion is pretty challenging from a physiological standpoint", he said, particularly after spending a couple months in weightlessness.

Along with SpaceX, NASA also has a contract with Boeing to eventually fly people to the space station, and the agency is making plans to allow private individuals to launch to the station for tourist flights.

The splashdown is the final step in the mission created to test SpaceX's human spaceflight system - including launch, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.

Meanwhile, the capsule that carried Mr Hurley and Mr Behnken into space will be refurbished and launched during SpaceX's second operational crewed mission, Crew 2, which will take place early next year.

Nasa could extend that slightly, Mr Steve Stich, the agency's commercial crew programme manager, told reporters July 29.

Hurley and Behnken are both married to astronauts.

SpaceX and Nasa have begun the return flight of two astronauts from the International Space Station while keeping an eye on Hurricane Isaias, which has since weakened to a tropical storm.



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