Dragon aims to dodge hurricane for astronauts’ homecoming

Flag handover
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy palms a U.S. flag to his crewmate, Doug Hurley, throughout a farewell ceremony on the Worldwide House Station. The flag flew into house on the primary and the final NASA house shuttle mission, and had been put aside on the house station for the primary post-shuttle crew to return to the station on a U.S.-built spacecraft. (NASA by way of YouTube)

NASA and SpaceX are going forward with plans to deliver NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken residence from the Worldwide House Station for a splashdown this weekend, although Hurricane Isaias is heading for Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Luckily, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is heading for waters off Florida’s different coast.

NASA stated climate circumstances are all techniques go for the focused web site within the Gulf of Mexico, near Pensacola, in addition to for an alternate web site off the coast of Panama Metropolis, Fla. That opened the best way for preparations to proceed for the Dragon Endeavour to undock at 7:34 p.m. ET (4:34 p.m. PT) at the moment, with a splashdown set for two:41 p.m. ET (11:41 a.m. PT) Sunday.

The plan could possibly be adjusted, earlier than or after the docking, if the climate forecast modifications. NASA and SpaceX had made plans for seven potential splashdown targets, however as a consequence of Isaias’ power, NASA targeting the westernmost websites..

Dwell protection of the Dragon’s return is because of begin at 5:15 p.m. ET (2:15 p.m. PT) and proceed via splashdown.

Simply because the Dragon’s launch made historical past in Could, its return will go down in house historical past books as nicely. It’ll mark the primary return of a commercially constructed and operated U.S. spacecraft from orbit, and the primary at-sea return of U.S. astronauts because the topsy-turvy splashdown of NASA’s Apollo-Soyuz crew in 1975.

Throughout a information convention carried out upfront of undocking, Hurley stated he had reviewed the Apollo file and acknowledged that splashdowns could be “fairly difficult from a physiological standpoint.”

“Of us didn’t really feel nicely — that’s the best way it’s with a water touchdown,” he stated. Flight surgeons can be on board the restoration fleet to assist the astronauts regulate.

The sport plan requires the Dragon to be hoisted aboard the principle restoration ship with a crane, after which for Behnken and Hurley to be extracted from the capsule for the return to shore.

Throughout their 63 days on the house station, Behnken participated in 4 spacewalks with NASA crewmate Chris Cassidy to improve the orbital outpost’s energy system. Behnken and Hurley additionally helped beef up the station’s crew complement, which had been down to a few earlier than they arrived.

Cassidy famous that he had been the only American, working alongside two Russians. “It was lonely conversations I had with myself at dinner previous to their arrival — and with these final two months, it’s been incredible to have buddies on the chow desk to mirror on the day, take into consideration tomorrow and speak about world occasions,” Cassidy stated.

Behnken and Hurley aren’t the one house vacationers returning to Earth. Tremor, a luxurious dinosaur that was used as a zero-G indicator for the Dragon’s launch, can be coming again as nicely.

The Dragon may even be bringing again a U.S. flag that flew aboard NASA’s first and final house shuttle mission, and was stored on the house station because the shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011 for the subsequent crew to reach on a U.S.-built spacecraft.

“The flag’s all yours,” Cassidy stated as he handed the flag to Hurley. In an extra historic twist, Hurley was a part of the crew who dropped the flag 9 years earlier.

“I’m very proud to return this flag residence, and see what’s subsequent for it on its journey to the moon,” stated Hurley, referring to NASA’s Artemis moon program.

The subsequent SpaceX Crew Dragon launch to the house station is scheduled for as early as subsequent month. And Behnken’s spouse, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, is because of be a part of a Dragon crew heading for the station subsequent spring.

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