- The Dragon Crew SpaceX became the first spacecraft, developed by spacecraft, to enter the International Space Station in May.
- This weekend, the ship and its astronauts are set to return to Earth. Their flight involves a rapid and rapid decline through our atmosphere.
- Watch the trip live on NASA TV below.
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SpaceX made history in May when it became the first company to launch a spacecraft mounted on the International Space Station. In doing so, rocket company Elon Musk also revived the U.S. ability to launch its astronauts into space, which had not been possible since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.
Two months later, mission astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are ready to return home on the same spacecraft they named Endeavor. Their journey involves a fiery return through the Earth’s atmosphere.
NASA will broadcast that flight, as well as the process in which the spacecraft is unlocked from the space station, live this weekend – you can watch below via NASA TV. Here is the schedule:
On Saturday, August 1, the astronauts will attend an ISS farewell ceremony around 9:10 a.m. ET. Subsequently, NASA naked coverage begins at 5:15 p.m. on ET, ahead of the astronauts’ scheduled departure ’07: 34pm.
Then on Sunday, August 2, assuming everything goes well, the Dragon Crew should be sprayed into the Atlantic Ocean around 2:42 a.m. ET. A press conference later in the day will begin at 5 p.m. ET.
However, it is possible that Isaias Tropical Storm took the road, forcing SpaceX and NASA to change the schedule. Wind and rainstorms are expected to hit Florida on Saturday.
Tofare must wait while the crew Dragon returns
The first stage of the astronauts’ return journey, undressing, calls for them to enter the Crew Dragon, after which the spacecraft must pull the hooks that connect it to the ISS. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the engines will gently push the ship away from the station. Once it is flying for free, the ship is programmed to start its engines more aggressively to place it on its way to its splashdown location off the coast of Florida.
Then after being on the road, the ship is expected to dump its luggage, which should burn in the atmosphere. Once the split is complete, the Dragon Crew must dig to Earth at up to 17,500 miles per hour, or nearly 23 times the speed of sound.
During this fall, the spacecraft heat shield will need to protect the equipment and crew from temperatures down to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Musk has called this part of the trip “the biggest concern.”
Once the Dragon Crew restores the thickest parts of the Earth’s atmosphere, it is programmed to deploy two sets of parachutes. The first opens with 18,000 feet, then another set comes with 6,000 feet. After that is the conclusion: The capsule is expected to land in the ocean about 22 to 175 nautical miles off the coast of Florida.