Astronauts on SpaceX’s Crew-1 Dragon capsule are now due to return to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) in early Sunday.
NASA and SpaceX have already delayed the return of the crew twice due to bad weather; the four astronauts were originally scheduled to return on Wednesday after a six-month operation.
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The decision to postpone the crew’s landing for the second time on Wednesday comes “after reviewing the forecast weather conditions in the spray zones off the coast of Florida, which predicted wind speeds above the return criteria,” reads a blog post on the NASA website.
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“Crew Dragon is in excellent health on the space station and now the teams are forecasting ideal conditions for both spraying and recovery over the weekend,” the blog post said.
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, took off from the Kennedy Space Center on November 15 when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket fired Dragon Crew. The spacecraft arrived on the ISS on November 17.
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“Thanks, miracle, connection,” Glover tweeted on his 45th birthday on Friday. “I am fulfilled and motivated by these feelings on my birthday as my first space mission ends. This orbital laboratory is a true testament to what we can achieve when we work together as a team. Crew-1 is ready for our journey to the house! “
The astronauts will return to Cape Canaveral and Houston on landing, and the Dragon capsule “will be inspected and repaired for future missions on human spaceflight,” according to SpaceX.
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The reusable capsule can carry up to seven passengers and is the first private spacecraft to ever transport humans to the ISS; SpaceX is working with NASA to create fully usable launch systems that can send people and cargo into space.
Viewers can broadcast the astronaut’s return to Earth live on the SpaceX website, the NASA website, NASA television and the NASA app.
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“This will be the first night landing of a U.S. spacecraft with a crew since Apollo 8 returned to the Pacific Ocean on December 27, 1968, with NASA astronauts Frank Bormann, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders,” the NASA blog said.
Crew-1 is the first of six NASA-SpaceX manned missions aimed at launching astronauts from US rockets to US soil, according to NASA.