- In May, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon became the first crew of a commercially developed spacecraft located in the International Space Station.
- This weekend, the ship and its astronauts are about to return to Earth. Their flight involves burning, the rapid decline of our atmosphere.
- Watch the live tour on NASA TV below.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
SpaceX made history in May when it became the first company to launch the International Manned Space Station. At the same time, the rocket company Elona Muska also revived the ability of the USA to launch its own astronauts into space, which has not been possible since the end of the Shuttle program in 2011.
Two months later, mission astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley return home in the same spaceship they named Endeavor. Their journey involves a fiery return through the Earth’s atmosphere.
NASA will broadcast this flight, and the process of disconnecting the spacecraft from the space station will take place this weekend – you can watch below on NASA television. Here is the schedule:
On Saturday, August 1, astronauts will attend the farewell ceremony with the ISS around 9:10 a.m. ET. Then NASA’s broadcast will begin at 5:15 p.m. ET before the scheduled departure of the astronauts at 19:34.
Then, on Sunday, August 2, assuming all goes well, the crew kite should squirt in the Atlantic Ocean around 2:42 p.m. ET. The news conference will start later at 17:00 ET.
However, it is possible that Tropical Storm Isaias could get in the way and force SpaceX and NASA to change their schedule. Wind and rain are expected to hit Florida on Saturday.
What to expect during the return of the Dragon crew
The first phase of the astronauts’ return journey, which unfolds, requires them to enter a crew kite, after which the spacecraft should pull off the hooks that connect it to the ISS. Assuming everything went according to plan, his engines would then gently push the ship out of the station. Once free to fly, the ship is programmed to burn its engines more aggressively to get it on its way to its spray position off the coast of Florida.
Once on the way, the ship is expected to drop the trunk, which should burn in the atmosphere. Once the separation is complete, the Dragon crew should rush toward Earth at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour or nearly 23 times the speed of sound.
During this fall, the spacecraft’s heat shield will need to protect the hardware and crew from temperatures of up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Musk called this part of the journey his “greatest interest.”
After the Dragon crew enters the denser part of the Earth’s atmosphere, the deployment of two sets of parachutes is programmed. The first opens at 18,000 feet, then the next set costs at 6,000 feet. After this drop, the capsule is expected to land in the ocean about 22 to 175 nautical miles off the coast of Florida.