Tabbing a potential tropical storm, NASA is ahead of plans to attract two astronauts and theirreturn to Earth on Sunday with a surge in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be the first pilot re-entry of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and NASA’s first ocean landing in 45 years.
“The return flight review is complete. The NASA team and the SpaceX team all remain” back “to return,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein told reporters Wednesday. “We can’t wait to get itback to Earth.
“But of course we have some weather. As and when we launched, we had some weather issues, we may have it again. But the first opportunity remains on August 2, and we look forward to whether it will be in the realm of that that is possible “.
ANDThe route to Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico is expected to pass through the area over the weekend. The Crew Dragon capsule used for this first pilot test flight is not permitted to land in winds of more than 10 mph, in high waves or with rain and lightning in the area.
On Sunday, Hurley and Benken will break away from the front port of the EDT space station at about 7:30 p.m. EDT, setting up patches near Panama City, Florida, at about 2:42 p.m. the next day to complete the 64-day mission.
The SpaceX Recovery Ship, service crew and surgeons will stand side by side to pull the capsule on board and help the astronauts get out as they begin to adjust to gravity. After initial medical examinations, Hurley and Banken will be flown ashore to return to the Johnson Space Center in Houston aboard a NASA jet.
Steve Verse, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, said mission leaders would evaluate the day-to-day weather and make a final decision on whether to proceed shortly before the scheduled unlocking Saturday night. Or earlier, depending on the forecast.
“We have to evaluate the weather every day and just see how things are going,” Verse said. “It’s a test flight, and we’re taking time. We have a lot of opportunities in August, and we’re in no hurry to get home. We’ve really accomplished all the goals, really, for the mission.”
Hurley and Benken wereOn May 30, over the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, it was the first pilot orbital launch by NASA astronauts from US soil since the last space shuttle flight in 2011.
According to Verse, the capsule, designed, built and owned by SpaceX, was flawlessly executed for two months in space, and engineers are trying to return it to Earth for a detailed post-flight inspection.
Meanwhile, SpaceX is finishing off the second Crew Dragon spacecraft at its plant in Hawthorne, California, in preparation for the company’s first operational flight, known as Crew 1, this fall by four astronauts to the space station.
The Dragon Crew, which transported Hurley and Benken into space, will be repaired, modified to handle harsher weather, and launched during SpaceX’s second rotation mission – Crew 2 – early next year.
“The importance of returning the vehicle, the return of Bob and Doug to a safe return, is to then verify the details of this flight, which sets us up for the Crew 1 mission at the end of September,” Verse said. “And we will review the data methodically for this flight and make sure we are ready to start operational flights.”