SpaceX is ready to return its first NASA astronaut crew to Earth, but the potential cooking of a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic could cause delays.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, called Endeavor, is scheduled to launch from the coast of Florida on Sunday afternoon (August 2). Its crew, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, NASA is packing a historic two-month test flight, the astronauts’ first orbital trip on a commercial spacecraft. Their spray will also mark the first landing of water by American astronauts since the Apollo-Soyuz mission in July 1975.
“They will all stay ̵6;to leave’ and we can’t wait for Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to get back to Earth, but of course we’re waiting for the weather,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Wednesday (July 29) from Kennedy. Florida Space Center. “We look forward to seeing if this is within what is possible.”
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This “waiting weather”, called Bridenstine, is from the storm system that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) called Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine. Current NHC forecasts place a storm system in Florida on Sunday just ahead of the SpaceX 14:48 EDT (1948 GMT) spray target time.
“We will monitor the weather closely,” said Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager. “We have a series [landing] websites and many days in the future, so we’re looking at this tropical storm … we’ll take it every day. ‘ “
Currently, Behnken and Hurley are due to leave the space station on Saturday night at 7:35 PM EDT (2335 GMT) and prepare to travel home. If all goes well, Endeavor’s capsule will fire its engines to leave orbit on Sunday afternoon.
In the photos: SpaceX’s historic test flight with demonstrations of aircraft with astronauts
SpaceX has a choice of seven potential spray locations in Florida. They include offshore drop zones from Cape Canaveral, Daytona and Jacksonville to the eastern cost of Florida and near the cities of Panama, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa on the west coast. Wavelength, wind speed, lightning, rain conditions and other factors determine which spray sites SpaceX selects.
“We’re really looking for two sites to run until we release,” Stitch said, adding that the agency will postpone the final decision until an hour before the dock is canceled, or even allow it to leave if necessary. “The beauty of this vehicle is [that] we can stay in the dock for the space station. ‘ “
On May 30, Behnken and Hurley launched the SpaceX Demo-2 mission on the International Space Station. The mission is a two-month cruise designed to test whether SpaceX is ready for NASA’s astronaut operational missions. The space agency has launched an unplanned cargo mission for NASA for several years and is one of two companies (Boeing is the second) with a multi-billion dollar contract to fly astronauts to the station.
The Dragon crew’s spaceship is doing flawlessly in orbit, NASA and SpaceX officials said. Demo-2 astronomers tested their ability to hold up to four astronauts at once, leaving the only major unknown: a decline.
“That’s a really big problem,” said Benji Reed, director of the SpaceX crew. “It’s very important, and it’s part of the sacred honor we have to make sure we bring Bob and Doug back home to their families, to their children, and to make sure they’re safe.”
If the bad weather looks like it could postpone Sunday’s outage of the kite crew, NASA and SpaceX will postpone the shutdown this weekend until Monday (August 3), probably a day later, Stitch said.
“We’re going to have to evaluate the weather every day and just see how things are going,” Stitch said. “We have a lot of opportunities here in August and we are in no hurry to return home.”
Although SpaceX is preparing for Behnken and Hurley’s return to Earth, the company is already preparing for its first operational mission called Crew-1. The spacecraft for the mission is almost complete at the company’s headquarters and factory in Hawthorne, California, and will soon be delivered to Cape Canaveral, Reed said.
COD-1 astronauts – NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi – are with the vehicle this week, Reed added. This mission is currently scheduled for the end of September.
Yesterday, NASA announced in early 2021 that it would launch four astronauts in early 2021 for SpaceX’s second operational flight. This mission will launch astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA; Akihiko Hoshide from Japan and Thomas Pesque from the European Space Agency. McArthur is married to Behnken and her Crew-2 mission will take place on the same Dragon Dragon Endeavor as her husband, NASA and SpaceX.
As SpaceX prepares for Demo-2 astronauts to return to Earth, NASA is counting down another milestone event: launch to Mars.
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is ready to launch towards the Red Planet tomorrow (July 30). The mission, which will collect samples of Mars for a possible return to Earth, deploy a helicopter and look for signs of ancient life, will begin on the United Launch Alliance Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Liftoff is set to 7:50. EDT (1150 GMT).
Editor’s note: You can watch NASA’s live launch of Mars Rover Perseverance live here, with the permission of NASA Television. The webcast will begin at 7:00 AM EDT (1100 GMT). Broadcasting and spraying the crew of the Demo-2 SpaceX team will also be broadcast live.
Email Tariq Malik to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.