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SpaceX Demo-2 Is On Its Way Home

Splashdown Scheduled for Sunday Afternoon... 1442 ET

They're on their way. Following an on-schedule undock from the ISS, Saturday, Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are looking forward to real gravity just after lunchtime, Sunday.

Weather permitting, NASA and SpaceX are targeting 2:42 p.m. EDT Sunday, Aug. 2, for the splashdown and conclusion of the Demo-2 test flight mission, which is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, lifted off May 30 on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

With this test flight, NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry are marking the first successful launch of a crew to the space station on a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft, and a safe return to Earth for that spacecraft and crew.

This is SpaceX’s final test flight in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, landing, and crew return operations.

Dragon Endeavour has two sets of parachutes will that deploy once back inside Earth’s atmosphere to slow down prior to splashdown. Two drogue parachutes will deploy at about 18,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour. Four main parachutes will deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.

Immediately after splashdown has occurred, two fast boats with SpaceX personnel deploy from the main recovery ship. The first boat checks capsule integrity and tests the area around the Crew Dragon for the presence of any hypergolic propellant vapors. Once cleared, the personnel on the boats begin preparing the spaceship for recovery by the ship. The second fast boat is responsible for safing and recovering Crew Dragon’s parachutes, which have at this point detached from the capsule and are in the water.

At this point the main recovery vessel can move in and begin to hoist the Crew Dragon capsule onto the main deck. Once the capsule is on the recovery vessel, it is moved to a stable location for the hatch to be opened for waiting medical professionals to conduct initial checks and assist Behnken and Hurley out of Dragon Endeavour.

This entire process is expected to take approximately 45 to 60 minutes, depending on spacecraft and sea state conditions.

Immediately after exiting the Crew Dragon capsule, Behnken and Hurley will be assisted into a medical area on the recovery ship for initial assessment. This is similar to procedures when welcoming long-duration crew members returning home on Soyuz in Kazakhstan.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

 


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