U.S. astronauts to return to Earth in rare splashdown on SpaceX capsule

SpaceX's Crew Dragon uses four parachutes for a splashdown March 2019

SpaceX's Crew Dragon uses four parachutes for a splashdown March 2019

Eastern time. Several engine thrusters fired to further separate the spacecraft from the space station.

NASA opted to go ahead with bringing the pair home despite the threat of Isaias, which was downgraded to a tropical storm from a hurricane on Saturday.

But NASA is following the progression of Isaias, a category one hurricane, which was heading for Florida on Saturday after pummeling the Bahamas with heavy rain.

The planned re-entry flight has passed a flight-readiness review, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Wednesday.

"Splashdown is closer than the last time we were asked questions about it, but I still don't feel nervous about it", Behnken said. They are trying to get as much data as they can about this return, because the goal of this mission, the demonstration 2 or demo 2 mission, is to show that this capsule is safe to take people to and from space, not just any people, but civilians.

"The ground teams are fully aware of the challenges of the water landing and what it does to the human body", Hurley said.

"It's been a great two months, and we appreciate all you've done as a crew to help us prove out Dragon on its maiden flight", Hurley radioed to the space station.

No concrete decision will be made until NASA and SpaceX's joint meeting six hours before splashdown, although as of now the prime landing site is Panama City located off the coast of the Florida panhandle.

Two Nasa astronauts are getting ready to make the first splashdown return in 45 years. Completion of the test flight will also be a big accomplishment for SpaceX and the entire commercial spaceflight industry.

At a farewell ceremony earlier in the day, Cassidy, who will remain on board with two Russians until October, presented Hurley with the small U.S. flag left behind by the previous astronauts who launched to the space station from United States soil.

The first phase of the astronauts' return journey, undocking, calls for them to enter the Crew Dragon, after which the spaceship should retract the hooks that connect it to the ISS.

Owing to stormy weather conditions at the potential splashdown sites in the Atlantic, NASA is speculating that it (weather) complicates the schedule. These locations include zones off Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona and Jacksonville.

After the Crew Dragon reenters the thicker parts of Earth's atmosphere, it is programmed to deploy two sets of parachutes. The first opens at 18,000 feet, then another set comes at 6,000 feet.

After the spacecraft splashes down, a recovery ship with more than 40 NASA and SpaceX personnel onboard will rendezvous with the capsule and hoist it out of the water and onto the ship's main deck. The astronauts will then undergo medical checks before boarding a NASA plane back to Houston.

The crew departed the space station Saturday afternoon aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, the same craft that brought them to space in that vessel's first crewed flight.

From here, Endeavour is scheduled to remain in free flight for over twelve hours, following which - weather permitting -Bob, Doug, and Endeavour will begin their final preparations for their return to Earth.

If certified, the next Crew Dragon capsule will launch NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, to the space station in late September.

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