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NASA's astronauts will return in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule on 2 August

By Hoots the Owl - on 19 Jul 2020, 5:02pm

NASA's astronauts will return in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule on 2 August

Image Source: NASA

NASA has announced a return date for astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who made history in May as part of SpaceX's first ever crewed flight. The Crew Dragon capsule has since been docked at the International Space Station (ISS), and NASA is aiming for an 1 August departure, with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean on 2 August. 

This would mark the conclusion of NASA and SpaceX's Demo-2 mission, which successfully ferried the astronauts to the ISS in May, the first such departure from US soil since 2011. This is still technically a test flight, which is why it carried only two astronauts. Moving forward, the next mission, dubbed Crew-1, will carry four astronauts and will be NASA's first operational SpaceX mission. 

Behnken and Hurley have been engaged in scientific and maintenance work on the ISS, and Behnken is scheduled for an upcoming spacewalk next week. 

During the return trip, the Crew Dragon capsule will go through an automated undocking and return flight manoeuvre. It will then enter the Earth's atmosphere, utilising a parachute system designed to slow its descent. After splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, the astronauts will be retrieved by SpaceX's retrieval crew. But as with the initial launch, weather conditions will need to be just right, particularly when it comes to things like wind speeds.