As per NASA reports, both the US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be boarding the SpaceX Crew Dragon on August 1 to begin their journey back to the earth. They are currently working in the International Space Station. Both the astronauts will be landing on Earth by August 2, 2020. This will end their 2-month stay at the International Space Station.
These two NASA scientists use this same Crew Dragon to go to space in May 2020. This voyage marked the first time where two astronauts went to the orbit using a privatized built spacecraft. After almost two decades of trying, SpaceX successfully launched the first two astronauts into Orbit in May. This also marked the first time that people are launch into space from American soil.
July 21 will mark the final spacewalk of both the astronauts before bidding the space station goodbye, as per NASA reports. While at the International Space Station, the duo has been busy swapping out old batteries from the ISS. Though Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator admitted that weather will be a pivotal factor for confirming the return of the astronauts. “Splashdown is targeted for Aug. 2,” he tweeted. “Weather will drive the actual date. Stay tuned.”
Mission planners would be looking out at the weather forecasts minutely for their safe return. They will be monitoring the regular weather changes to fix up a time and location for the Crew Dragon to return to the Earth. Till now, the return will be happening around 3 pm on August 2, 2020. The spacecraft Crew Dragon will be taking off from the ISS at around 8 pm on August 1, 2020.
Prior to this, astronauts have to take rides on the Soyuz spacecraft from Russia. There was no other option as post-2011; NASA aborted the space shuttle program.
Will SpaceX hold the monopoly over privatized space manufacturing?
Following the success of SpaceX, many private companies are gearing up to venture into the space shuttle manufacturing. Private agencies and firms are highly investing in rotorcrafts, satellites, and rockets to set up their own launch place. Competition has really spurned up post the successful space mission by the SpaceX Company.
Boeing Co. has set its eyes on creating its own launch system which would be ready anytime soon. If everything goes according to plan, it will fly its CST-100 Starliner sometime by the next year. NASA has invested a huge amount of 8 billion dollars in SpaceX and Boeing together for developing more space launch systems.
The return of the duo safely to the Earth will also test the Crew Dragon’s capability to carry people back to the Earth. There is a capsule with a heat shield in the Crew Dragon. This capsule protects the astronauts from the intense heat generated while entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The Crew Dagon also houses a suite having four parachutes inside it. The parachutes deploy once the capsule gets near somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
“Probably the biggest area of concern is just how long it’s been since humans have done this on the U.S. side — splashing down in the water and then being recovered,” Behnken stated from the ISS in a recent interview with the Washington Post.
Post the descent, the spacecraft as well as the astronauts will be picked by a specially built SpaceX recovery vessel. If all of this goes well, it will bring the end of the spacecraft’s first crewed test flight. SpaceX named this flight as the Demonstration Mission 2 or DM-2. This will tell is the Crew Dragon is able to carry out more such flights regularly between the Earth and the ISS.
What is next?
The next flight will be taking place around mid-to-late September this year when Crew Dragon will be carrying four astronauts to the ISS. This flight will be named as the Crew-1. NASA will be reviewing all the reports thoroughly from DM-2 before finalizing on the Crew-1 mission. A Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew-1 mission. It is now in Florida for final preparations.
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