U.S. astronauts ready for capsule splashdown, the first in 45 years

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 1, 2020

Just in case, Hurley said Friday, "there are bags if (we) need them and we'll have those handy, we'll probably have some towels handy as well".

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (right) and Bob Behnken (second right) after boarding the International Space Station, where they were welcomed by fellow astronaut and Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy (center) and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin (left) and Ivan Vagner (second left). Flight controllers are keeping close watch on Hurricane Isaias, expected to stick to Florida's east coast.

Following a comprehensive review of the latest weather forecast in the areas surrounding each of seven potential splashdown locations, NASA and SpaceX have chose to move forward with plans to bring NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home to Earth with a splashdown off the Florida coast on Sunday, Aug. 2, aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon "Endeavour" spacecraft.

"We won't leave the space station without some good landing opportunities in front of us - good splashdown weather in front of us", Behnken said Friday from the orbiting outpost.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, named "Endeavour" by the astronauts, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday and make its splashdown off the coast of Florida the following day. They arrived at the International Space Station the next day and have performed various vehicle checkout experiments and tests along with performing additional science experiments during their sixty plus day stay at the Station. It will be another hour before the hatch is opened and the astronauts emerge.

The capsule will splash down in the ocean and a recovery team on boats will scoop up the crew and capsule. The prime target is off the coast of Panama City, halfway between Tallahassee and Pensacola. On Wednesday, the executive of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, Steve Stich said, "We're going to examine the conditions very carefully".

Behnken has an extra reason to bring this Dragon back in good shape.

Upon successful reentry and recovery, the capsule will have completed the certifications needed to have the Crew Dragon approved to support regular flights to and from the orbiting laboratory by future astronauts. The space agency and its worldwide collaborators have officially selected the astronauts to fly on SpaceX's Crew-2 mission in the spring of 2021, as it had announced.

"She's super excited to be assigned to a SpaceX mission", says Behnken, who says the thing about his return to Earth that he's looking forward to the most is seeing his wife and son.

Hurley and Behnken are both married to astronauts.

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.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches into space from Kennedy Space Center with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 30, 2020.

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