SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule has been docked on the International Space Station (ISS) since its historic first crewed launch in May, but it surely’s on the brink of make its return journey. NASA had deliberate to maintain the spacecraft and astronauts at ISS for some time, relying on station mission wants, however they’re zeroing in on the precise time to cap the inaugural Crew Dragon human spaceflight mission with its return journey.
NASA Johnson Space Center public affairs rep Kyle Herring tweeted the goal date of August 2 because the deliberate return journey window, although he later clarified that there’s nonetheless a whole lot of work to be completed earlier than that will get pinned down. NASA later confirmed formally that it’s aiming for August 1 for the departure, after which August 2 for the splashdown.
NEWS: We're concentrating on an Aug. 1 departure of @SpaceX's Dragon Endeavour spacecraft from the @Space_Station to carry @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug dwelling after their historic #LaunchAmerica mission. Splashdown is focused for Aug. 2. Weather will drive the precise date. Stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/VOCV51gzLi
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 17, 2020
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been collaborating in numerous scientific and upkeep work on the Space Station since their arrival, together with Behnken collaborating in 4 spacewalks, with three already accomplished and one deliberate for subsequent week — a serious upcoming endeavor cited by Herring as one thing that’ll require focus forward of extra concrete return-trip planning. This first crewed Dragon flight is definitely nonetheless an indication mission, not an official operational ISS crew launch, however NASA made the decision to increase it to incorporate Behnken and Hurley contributing to common station operations throughout their time on orbit.
This return journey is simply as vital to the general success of SpaceX and NASA’s Commercial Crew collaboration as was the May launch; it’s clearly important that SpaceX’s crew spacecraft find a way not solely to get astronauts to the Space Station reliably, but in addition to get them again dwelling once more safely, too.
During this return leg of the journey, the Crew Dragon capsule will carry out an automatic undocking and return flight maneuver, with Behnken and Hurley aboard. It’ll enter the Earth’s ambiance and gradual its descent with a parachute system designed and examined by SpaceX, hopefully resulting in a tender touchdown within the Atlantic Ocean for the astronauts, the place they’ll be retrieved by a SpaceX devoted retrieval crew.
Weather circumstances have to be proper for a return journey to proceed — and for this Demo-2 mission, the tolerances round what sort of wind speeds are allowable for the mission to proceed are fairly tight. That stated, August tends to be a comparatively calm month wind-wise within the goal splashdown space, so that ought to assist.