- The Dragon SpaceX team SpaceX became the first crew of a commercially designed spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station in May.
- This weekend, the ship and its astronauts are going to return to Earth. Their flight involves a hot, rapid fall through our atmosphere.
- Watch the journey live on NASA television below.
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SpaceX went down in history in May when it became the first company to launch the International Space Station. In doing so, the Elon Musk rocket company also revived the ability of the United States to launch its own astronauts into space, which has been impossible since the end of the Space Boat program in 2011.
Two months later, the mission’s astronauts, Bob Benken and Doug Hurley, are about to return home on the same spaceship they named Endeavor. Their journey includes a fiery return through the earth’s atmosphere.
NASA will broadcast this flight, as well as the process in which the spacecraft deviates from the space station, live this weekend – you can watch below via NASA TV. Here is the schedule:
On Saturday, August 1, the astronauts will take part in a farewell ceremony on the ISS around 9:10 am. NASA’s unlocking coverage then begins at 5:15 p.m., before the astronauts are scheduled to depart at 7:34 p.m.
Then on Sunday, August 2, assuming all goes well, the Dragon’s crew should spill into the Atlantic Ocean at about 2:42 p.m. A press conference later in the day will begin at 5:00 p.m. ET.
However, it is possible that the tropical storm Isaiah could have prevented, forcing SpaceX and NASA to change the schedule. Wind and rain thunderstorms are expected to hit Florida on Saturday.
What to expect when the Dragon crew returns
The first phase of the astronauts’ return journey, unlocking, invites them to enter the Dragon Crew, after which the spacecraft must pull the hooks that connect it to the ISS. Assuming that everything goes according to plan, its engines will carefully push the ship away from the station. Once it takes off for free, the ship is programmed to shoot its engines more aggressively to put it on its way to the site of its surge off the Florida coast.
Then, after he goes to the ship, it is expected that the ship will spill its trunk, which should burn in the atmosphere. After the divorce, the Dragon Crew must move to Earth at speeds of up to 17,500 miles per hour, or almost 23 times the speed of sound.
During this fall, the spacecraft’s heat shield will have to protect equipment and crew from temperatures up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Musk called this part of the trip his “biggest concern.”
After the Dragon Crew rethinks the thicker parts of the Earth’s atmosphere, it is programmed to deploy two sets of parachutes. The first opens at 18,000 feet, then the other set at 6,000 feet. This is followed by an explosion: the capsule is expected to land in the ocean about 22 to 175 nautical miles off the coast of Florida.