NASA astronauts on overnight trip in SpaceX capsule begin descent home

Katie Ramirez
August 3, 2020

The homecoming of Douglas and Robert after more than two months at the ISS will mark the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station.

The Soyuz 23 mission in October 1976 accidentally landed in Lake Tengiz in the middle of blizzard.

Stich said Crew Dragon, an acorn-shaped pod that can seat up to seven astronauts, has been in a "very healthy" condition since docking on May 31 with the space station, where astronauts have been conducting tests and monitoring how the spacecraft performs in space.

The two Nasa astronauts who rode to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's new Crew Dragon are due to return today after a two-month voyage that marked Nasa's first crewed mission from home soil in nine years.

Crew members for that mission are to be NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

And despite a hurricane impacting the Atlantic coast of Florida, the capsule left the space station at 7:35 pm ET and began its trek to a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. A Houston company run by a former NASA official, meanwhile, has partnered with SpaceX to send three customers to the space station in fall 2021. This next mission of four astronauts will spend a full six months aboard the space station. And part of that is collecting as much data as they can.

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NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley are pictured moments before boarding Crew Dragon. The forecast was a primary driver on whether or not to press ahead with undocking and return to Earth.

That meeting resulted in a "go" decision; Bob and Doug then proceeded to re-enter their vehicle and begin preparations for departure.

At 5:45 pm EDT (21:45 UTC), the two will wave goodbye to Cassidy, Anatoli Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner before closing the hatches that separate Endeavour and the Station.

Overnight, Dragon Endeavour will slowly descend from the ISS, which orbits about 250 miles above Earth using brief engine burns to lower its altitude overnight. But what time will it actually be landing back on Earth? Funding shortfalls in the early years of the program, coupled with technical problems, pushed back the first flights of the spacecraft from 2015 to 2020.

Isaias is edging nearer to Florida where it will probably re-strengthen to a hurricane as its winds start to reach the coastline.

© Bill Ingalls/NASA/AFP via Getty Images NASA and SpaceX support teams onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship, prepare for the landing of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, Aug. 2, 2020, in the Gulf of Mexico off the cost of Pensacola, Florida.

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