SpaceX is ready to return its first crew of NASA astronauts to Earth, but a possible tropical cyclone invasion of the Atlantic could cause delays.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon, called Endeavor, is scheduled to fly off the coast of Florida on Sunday afternoon (August 2). Its crew, NASA bobs Behnken and Doug Hurley, are planning a historic two-month test flight – the first astronauts to travel into orbit by a commercial spacecraft. Their splashes will also mark the first landing of American astronauts after the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. In July.
“Everyone stays back and we can’t wait for Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to return to Earth, but of course we look forward to the weather,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters on Wednesday (July 29) from Kennedy. Space Center in Florida. “We̵7;re hoping to see if that happens with what’s possible.”
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The “weather waiting” mentioned in Bridenstine comes from a storm system called the National Hurricane Center (NHC) “Potential Tropical Cyclone.” The current NHC forecast sets the storm system right in Florida on Sunday just ahead of SpaceX’s planned target of 2:48 p.m. EDT (1948 GMT).
“We will be monitoring the weather very closely,” said Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager. “We have a series [landing] sites and many days in the future, so we’ll watch this tropical storm … we’ll take it every day. ”
Behnken and Hurley are currently due to be disconnected from the space station on Saturday night at 7:35 p.m. EDT (2335 GMT) and getting ready to go home. If all goes well, the Endeavor capsule will burn its engines out of orbit on Sunday to keep them out in the afternoon.
In photos: SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 test flight with astronauts
SpaceX has seven possible splitting sites around the Florida panhandle. These include areas of fall offshore off Cape Canaveral, Dayton and Jacksonville in eastern Florida, and near the city of Panama, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa on the west coast. Wave height, wind speed, lightning, rain conditions, and other factors will determine which SpaceX chooses spray locations.
“We are actually looking for two places to visit before uncoupling,” Stitch said, adding that the agency would make a final decision an hour before dismantling or even call to leave if necessary. “The beauty of this vehicle is [that] we can stay attached to the space station. ”
Behnken and Hurley on May 30. Launch of the SpaceX demonstration mission “International Space Station”. The mission is a two-month cruise to test SpaceX’s readiness to conduct NASA space aviation missions. SpaceX has been launching NASA’s unloaded cargo missions for many years and is one of two companies (Boeing is the other) to sign a multi-billion dollar contract for astronauts to fly to the station.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft has performed flawlessly in orbit, NASA and SpaceX officials said. Demo-2 astronauts tested their ability to hold up to four astronauts at once, leaving only the main unknown, the splashdown.
“It’s a really big deal,” said Benji Reed, SpaceX’s crew management director. “It’s very important and it’s part of that sacred honor that we need to ensure to bring Bob and Doug back home to their families, our children, and make sure they’re safe.”
Should bad weather seem to delay the rejection of Crew Dragon on Sunday, NASA and SpaceX will postpone the opening of this weekend no earlier than Monday (August 3).
“So we’ll have to assess the weather every day and just see how things go,” Stitch said. “August. We have a lot of opportunities and we’re in no hurry to get home.”
Even as SpaceX prepares to return Behnken and Hurley to Earth, the company is already preparing for its first mission, called Crew-1. The spacecraft for this mission is nearing completion at the company’s headquarters and plant in Hawthorne, California, and will soon be shipped to Cape Canaveral, Red said.
Crew-1 astronauts – NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi – are with the vehicle this week, Reed added. The mission is currently scheduled to begin in late September.
Yesterday, NASA also announced four astronauts who in 2021. It will initially embark on the second SpaceX operating flight, Crew-2. This mission will be launched by astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, both from NASA; Akihiko Hoshide from Japan and Thomas Pesque from the European Space Agency. McArthur is married to Behnken, and her Crew-2 mission will launch on the same Dragon ship Endeavor as her husband, NASA and SpaceX reported.
Meanwhile, as SpaceX prepares to bring the astronauts Demo-2 back to Earth, NASA expects another event to take place: the launch to Mars.
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance March will be launched on the Red Planet tomorrow (July 30). The mission, which will collect samples from Mars to finally return to Earth, deploy a helicopter and look for signs of ancient life, will launch a United Launch Alliance Atlas V missile from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Liftoff is set at 7:50 p.m. EDT (1150 GMT).
Editor’s note: With NASA TV, you can watch NASA’s Mars rover persistence live directly. The webcast will start at 7 p.m. EDT (1100 GMT). The disconnection of SpaceX and the dismissal of the Crew of Demo-2 will also be broadcast live online.
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