NASA and its partner SpaceX, just 45 years ago, when the last American astronaut appeared in the ocean, are about to land astronauts in the sea again on August 2.
The agency announced last week that the SpaceX commercial crew mission, Demo-2, which carries NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, is ready to return to Earth, spraying into the ocean near Florida at one of seven designated landing sites. The mission is expected to land at 2:42 p.m. EDT (1842 GMT), as long as weather and technical systems work together, NASA said in a statement.
The coverage will be broadcast on NASA television, with astronauts landing in one of the following locations: off the coast of Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona or Jacksonville, NASA said in a statement. The return time for astronauts will take six to 30 hours, depending on the exact throw-off and drain zone selected. So far, NASA and SpaceX expect to postpone the Dragon crew from the International Space Station on August 1at 7:34 PM EDT (2334 GMT).
related: A historic test flight of Dragon Space Demo-2 Crew Dragon astronauts
Demo-2splashdown will be a historic moment. On the one hand, it will be a moment “back to the future”: the last time the astronauts landed the ocean was on July 24, 1975, to complete Apollo-Soyuz test project between the United States and the Soviet Union. Landing Demo-2 will also complete the crew’s first-ever commercial test mission and prepare NASA for spaceX operations; next launch is set for September with a full crew of four astronauts.
The disintegration will take place in a new era for NASA, which finally (after more than ten years of work) has one version of a replacement commercial spacecraft crew ready to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX and another partner, Boeing, are expected to largely replace NASA spacecraft, which used the Soyuz spacecraft in the years when the agency’s space missile program stopped flights in 2011 to access the space station.
We won’t know the exact location of the spray about two days before landing, NASA added to the fact sheetand the agreed area will be confirmed 6 hours and again 2.5 hours before disconnection. If the conditions at the place of unloading are “ineffective” or marginal, disconnection is likely to continue. NASA and SpaceX will continue to monitor as astronauts get closer to Earth, as weather conditions can change rapidly and would rather retain the possibility of splashing if possible.
If conditions do not ultimately result in a landing, the crew has the option of “waving” the landing for 24 to 48 hours and remaining in space on board the Ddragon Endeavor crew before the second attempt.
“Leakage sites shall be selected according to defined priorities, starting with the selection of the date and time of departure of the station with the maximum number of return opportunities in geographically diverse locations to protect against weather changes,” the agency stated in the fact sheet, “Teams also prefer locations that require the shortest time between weaning and falling due to orbital mechanics and the opportunities that occur during the day.”
Recovery parameters will depend on factors such as wind speed (not more than 15 feet or 4.5 meters per second), sea wave gradient of no more than seven degrees, rain, lightning (which cannot occur within 10 km or 16 km). ) the availability of rescue helicopters that can be lifted by astronauts (helicopters will be tested before deployment), the pitch and roll of the vessel (which should not exceed four degrees), the visible ceiling (at least 500 feet) or 152 meters) and the overall visibility (not less than than half a mile or 0.8 km in daylight).
Here are the main milestones that can be expected from disintegration, according to NASA:
Once the Dragon Endeavor crew separates from the space station, they complete two small engine burns to safely move away from the station. In addition, Endeavor will perform four departure burns that will set it on its way to Earth. A few hours later, assuming that the conditions of departure look good, Endeavor will complete a six-minute “exit phase burn” to place it in the correct orbit for the area where the outflow occurred.
Next, Endeavor is released from the trunk holding the solar fields and other spacecraft equipment to clear its heat shield for re-entry. Then it will strive for “deorbit combustion” and begin to immerse itself in the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the air at a speed of 28,000 km / h. The communication outage will last for six minutes when the heat shield reaches 3,500 degrees Celsius (1,900 degrees Celsius).
Once out of the worst re-entry, Endeavor will discover two parachutes at an altitude of 18,000 feet (about 5.5 km), slowing its descent from 560 km / h to 191 km / h. When Endeavor is about 1.8 km above the ground, three main parachutes are deployed.
Another will be a spray. The crew will be picked up by one of two lifeboats, either Go Searcher or Go Navigator. Each ship will have more than 40 NASA and SpaceX personnel on board, including personnel such as water extraction experts, medical personnel, spacecraft engineers and other people specializing in recovery operations.
The main lifeboat will send two smaller ships with SpaceX flight crew. One ship will ensure that the capsule does not escape (NASA spacecraft Mercury Liberty Bell 7 it happened to fall in 1961 and was not restored until 1999.) The ship will also ensure that there are no fumes that could endanger the crew. The second ship acquires parachutes, which at this point should float freely from the water in the water.
As soon as everything is complete, the main lifeboat will move toward Endeavor and lift the spacecraft (with the crew still inside) onto the main deck. Behnken and Hurley will assist medical personnel immediately upon arrival, during routine medical examinations and on boarding the spacecraft. Should everyone go to plan, the crew should be back on the lifeboat within 45 to 60 minutes of the fall.
After medical examinations, Hurley and Behnken will reach the coast – either by helicopter (for six of the seven regeneration areas) or by a rescue boat (if the crew lands near Cape Canaveral.) It will take 10 to 80 minutes to return to dry land, after whose crew will board a NASA aircraft to return to their home base in Houston. It takes them at least a few weeks to recover from space, which is typical of the return of crews who remain in microgravity for several months in a row.
Endeavor will take a separate trip and end up in Florida to control and process SpaceX. Certification of the spacecraft for operational missions will take about six weeks, after which another mission (crew 1) will be eligible to launch in September.
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