On Saturday, August 1st, NASA and SpaceX are planning to complete their historic Demo 2 mission, the first test flight of the new crew-crewed Dragon Dragon capsule that will carry astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station (ISS) . The spacecraft will undock from the station it has been in since its arrival on May 31 and will return to Earth with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board.
We have all the details about what you can expect from the return flight and how you can follow the event live online.
The Crew Dragon Mission so far
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's spacecraft Crew Dragon can be seen in this false-color infrared exposure when it was on NASA's SpaceX Demo 2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on Saturday, May 30th. 2020 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA / Bill Ingalls
At the end of May, the Crew Dragon capsule was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with astronauts Behnken and Hurley on board a Falcon 9 rocket. After a smooth and uneventful 19-hour journey, the astronauts safely reached the International Space Station with the capsule in good condition.
The astronauts then spent three months on board the ISS, assisting the crew in scientific operations and checking the health of the crew kite. Now both NASA and SpaceX are satisfied that the Crew Dragon capsule has delivered the required performance since there were no problems launching or docking. You are ready for the return trip to complete this test flight mission.
What happens next
The two newest crew members of the International Space Station, NASA astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, entered the orbit laboratory shortly after arriving on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA
On the day of the return flight, Saturday, August 1st, Behnken and Hurley say goodbye to their ISS colleagues and drive back from the space station into the Crew Dragon capsule. The capsule is then carefully undocked from the station and maneuvered to a safe distance.
The capsule does four engine burns to point back to Earth and begin the return journey. This journey takes between six and 30 hours, depending on when the departure is made. This big difference is due to the fact that the ISS moves around the earth, so its position relative to the landing zone varies throughout the day.
As the capsule approaches Earth's atmosphere, it drops its stem or the cylinder in which it sits, which then burns in the atmosphere. The small capsule will continue to run and will reach the earth's atmosphere at a speed of around 2700 km / h. At friction speeds, temperatures of up to 3500 degrees Fahrenheit occur.
Once the capsule moves through the atmosphere, it deploys two parachutes to slow the descent before landing in the ocean. The first set is deployed at 18,000 feet and the second at 6,000 feet, slowing the Crew Dragon from 350 mph to 119 mph to a safe landing speed.
The capsule will splash in the Atlantic off the Florida coast. There are seven potential splashdown locations, including near Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona, and Jacksonville. Which location is used depends exactly on when the vehicle leaves the ISS and the weather conditions at each location.
The crew members are then called up by a team of SpaceX and NASA employees using one of two salvage vessels, the Go Searcher and the Go Navigator. You will be taken to a medical exam to check that you are fit and healthy. Then they travel back ashore where they board a plane that flies them to Ellington Field base in Houston.
How to watch NASA astronauts return live on the Crew Dragon
This artist's concept shows a SpaceX Crew Dragon docking with the International Space Station. SpaceX
NASA TV shows full coverage of the return flight, including an ISS farewell ceremony for the astronauts, undocking of the aircraft from the space station, and spraying in the Atlantic. There will also be a post-hosing press conference with representatives from NASA and SpaceX to talk about the course of the return flight, and after a few days of recovery, the astronauts traveling with the crew Dragon, Behnken and Hurley will talk about their experiences in a press conference.
On the day of the flight, Saturday, August 1st, coverage of the farewell ceremony begins at 6:10 a.m.PT / 9:10 a.m.ET, followed by reporting on undocking from 2:15 p.m. PT / 5: 3 p.m. ET, with the actual undocking scheduled for 4:34 p.m. PT / 7: 34 a.m.ET.
The vehicle will return to Earth on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. The start is scheduled for 11.42 p.m. PT / 2: 42 p.m. ET on Sunday August 2nd. The press conference follows after the spraying at 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET.
You can watch all of these events on NASA TV by either using the embedded video at the top of this page or by going to NASA's live TV page.