After two months in space, the first two NASA astronauts to visit the International Commercial Vehicle Space Station are ready to return to Earth – if time cooperates.
Doug Hurley and Bob Benken arrived at the International Space Station on May 31, the day after becoming the first astronaut to launch from Florida, encased in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. But this weekend they have to deal with one of the most challenging aspects of the mission: to leave the space station, to spend hours inside that same capsule, to parachute through the Earth’s atmosphere, and spraying down off the coast of Florida.
Hurley and Behnken are currently scheduled to climb the Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday (August 1) and flood on Sunday (August 2). Their initial target for flooding is in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of the Florida city of Panama, NASA officials said.
Connected: Crew Dragon’s historic SpaceX demo test flight 2: Full coverage
The spraying procedure marks the final hurdle of the duo’s mission, called Demo-2and notes the latest test for SpaceX’s trading system. After a safe return, the company must be clear about initiating regular business trips to the orbital laboratory.
Every step of the Demo-2 mission has been assessment of the new spacecraftand both Benken and Hurley and NASA management emphasized during the mission that it was a test flight. The task of the astronauts was to check every aspect of the vehicle and ensure that it was ready for regular use by the crew members, but this also means that they were guinea pigs during the mission and this also applies to their return, although the astronauts said they were unsightly.
“As we approach, I think we are really focusing more and more on our preparations to be ready for the flooding activities,” Benken said. “I’m still not nervous about it.”
For decades, American astronauts returning from space have been touching land, either on a runway, such as those conducted by NASA’s space shuttles, or in a parachute landing, as Russia’s Soyuz capsules do. The last American crew to return to the ocean did so 45 years ago, at the end of Apollo-Union project test a mission in which astronauts met with Soviet astronauts in orbit.
“The water landing section is quite challenging from a physiological point of view, just after it returns from microgravity on the order of one to two months,” Hurley said. “Ground crews are fully aware of the challenges of water landing and what it does to the human body, and we will just take it from there.”
In the photos: The historic test flight of SpaceX Demo-2 with astronauts
Although NASA is reluctant to see the Demo-2 capsule dismantled, the return schedule is not set in stone. NASA and SpaceX will base the timing of the procedure on multiple climatic and climatic criteria, depending on seven spray sites the team ends with guidance.
At the moment, these conditions seem difficult. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center is monitoring a system called Hurricane Isaas as it descends across the Caribbean Sea and heads to Florida.
To this morning, forecasts forecast the storm will blow up the east coast of Florida all day on Sunday, potentially leaving safe conditions on the shores of the Persian Gulf, where four of the seven potential sites are located.
The astronauts said they were leaving concerns about staff time on site and were ready to do what mission control advised. “We don’t control the weather and we know we can stay here longer,” Benken said. “There are more chows and I know that the space station program has more work to do for them. [researchers] and other people who sent science to the space station. “
Secure Return of Demo-2 is the last piece of the puzzle for NASA’s approval of the next crew of SpaceX, the company’s first mission to the space station. Duplicate crew-1, that the mission is currently focused launches in late September.
Crew-1 will transport three NASA astronauts – Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker – and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi to the space station for a stay of more than six months, which will put the number of employees in the orbital laboratory at seven.
NASA also recently announced personnel for the next mission, Crew-2, which will see American astronauts Megan McArthur (who is married to Benken) and Shane Kimbro, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshid and European astronaut Thomas Pesquet blew up Earth in 2021. This mission will use the same capsule of Endeavor Crew Dragon-2 crew. ,,
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