On Saturday night, the crew will board their spacecraft, which has remained attached to the space station’s ports since the astronauts arrived in November. They will disembark from the ISS around 20:30 ET and then spend the night aboard their capsule while flying in orbit. The spacecraft will power its onboard engines to safely crash into Earth’s dense atmosphere and use a series of parachutes to slow its condition before bursting off the coast of Florida on Sunday morning at around 2:57 p.m. ET .
As the vehicle glides into the ocean with an overhanging train of four large parachutes, a rescue ship crew will be stationed in the Gulf of Mexico to greet the crew on arrival. The astronauts will then be transported by helicopter or boat back to NASA̵
Recovery crews will try to make their return as soon as possible. Ocean splashes can be harsh for astronauts, as moving waves can cause severe seasickness. Asked what he was looking forward to eating after returning home, NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins admitted that he would probably not be able to handle the gourmet meal.
“If I have an appetite, it will be a bonus,” Hopkins told a remote news conference Monday.
Authorities are closely monitoring the water nearby for intruders. During the skating of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 in August, a swarm of unidentified boats with waving flags reached the recovery area. But Coast Guard crews are currently stationed on the perimeter, hoping to prevent a recurrence of this scenario.
The crew’s return on Sunday will complete a remarkable mission for NASA and SpaceX: This is the first fully operational crew mission for the Crew Dragon spacecraft, following a test mission in May involving NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Benken, both test pilots. , to the space station.
This is only the second time that SpaceX and NASA have ever taken astronauts home aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft since Behnken and Hurley returned from the SpaceX Demo-2 mission in August. And Benken had described re-entry as the fastest part of the return trip.
The spacecraft becomes extremely hot due to the rapid compression of the air and the friction of air molecules that rub against its exterior, although a thick heat shield will protect the astronauts inside as the vehicle roars at its target: “It doesn’t sound like a machine. sounds like an animal, “Benken told reporters last year.
But this mission, called Crew-1, is not a test. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was officially certified as a spacecraft worthy of transporting people before the launch of Crew-1 in November, paving the way for it to start making travel relatively routine, transporting astronauts from different backgrounds.
Astronauts even have to eat some of the crops they have grown, Hopkins said at a recent news conference.
“I think we will all agree that it’s amazing to have fresh [food] up here, “Hopkins said.
This was Glover’s first space mission of his kind, and his assignment was historic because he became the first black man to become a staff member of the ISS.
“One thing that really struck me was the first time I got out of the seat after that. [our spacecraft] I was safe in orbit and I looked out the window and saw the Earth from 250 miles up, “Glover said.” I will never forget this moment … It was not about the view. The look made me feel … The earth is amazing. It’s beautiful. It protects us, so we have to work hard to protect it. “
SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon capsule as part of NASA’s commercial crew program, which for the first time in the space agency’s history handed over much of the design, development and testing of new manned spacecraft to the private sector. NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing fixed-price contracts worth $ 2.6 billion and $ 4.2 billion, respectively, to get the job done. Development of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is still slow due to major software problems discovered during a test mission last year, but officials say the vehicle could be ready this year.