Astronauts face final leg of SpaceX test flight: coming home

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 2, 2020

If the test mission goes according to plan, NASA aims to send its next space station crew in late September with four astronauts aboard the Dragon. The astronauts said they'll have seasick bags ready for the landing.

NASA's Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken bid farewell to the three men left behind as their SpaceX Dragon capsule undocked and headed toward a Sunday afternoon descent by parachute into the Gulf of Mexico. The current preferred splashdown zone is just south of Panama City.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.

A successful splashdown, Behnken said, will bring USA -crew launching capability "full circle". "So we expect nothing different for the splashdown".

Crew Dragon will splash down off the coast of Florida to conclude Demo-2, and SpaceX crews are on hand to recover the astronauts at that point and bring them the rest of the way back to terra firma.

'The teams are working really hard, especially with the dynamics of the weather over the next few days around Florida, ' he said.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour by the crew of the Demo-2 mission, undocked from the station's Harmony module at 7:35 p.m. There, the crew will emerge from the capsule and receive all necessary medical test and checkouts.

The last time astronauts made an ocean landing was on July 1975 during an Apollo mission.

But if SpaceX is able to bring Hurley and Behnken home safely in the first test flight with humans on board it would be the triumphant culmination of years of work and the opening of a new era in human spaceflight in which corporations play a starring role alongside NASA.

That said, bobbing in the sea awaiting recovery while re-adjusting to gravity after an extended stay in weightlessness raises the prospect of post-splashdown nausea and seasickness.

Now, Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to return this weekend to Earth.

"As you can imagine, even if you chose to go deep sea fishing one day, and you've lived on Earth your whole life, people get seasick". "So there's a pretty good likelihood that we may see breakfast twice on that particular day".

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". Feeling sick "is the way it is with a water landing, " he added. "We've got the the flight surgeons on board that will be able to help us as well".

Along with SpaceX, NASA also has a contract with Boeing to eventually fly people to the space station, and the agency is making plans to allow private individuals to launch to the station for tourist flights.

NASA turned to SpaceX and Boeing for US-based crew transport after the space shuttles retired in 2011.

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

Nasa could extend that slightly, Mr Steve Stich, the agency's commercial crew programme manager, told reporters July 29. "My son is six years old and I can tell from the videos that I get and from talking to him on the phone that he's changed a lot", Behnken said.

Hurley and Behnken are both married to astronauts.

This will be the first time the Crew Dragon will be carrying astronauts back to our planet.

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