SpaceX Crew Dragon due to splash down after historic test
August 2, 2020
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are due to return from the International Space Station (ISS) as early as Aug 2, completing the first crewed test of the SpaceX Crew Dragon transportation system and making history.
Their liftoff on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 marked the first time NASA astronauts have launched into orbit from U.S. soil since the final space shuttle flight took off in 2011. In the interim, NASA has hitched rides to orbit with Russia. The New York Times notes that SpaceX is now the first private business to take people to orbit. Previously the feat had only been accomplished by nations.
The first part of the test – liftoff and the docking of the capsule, named Endeavour, with the ISS – proceeded flawlessly. The next and last phase involves undocking, deorbit, reentry, parachute-assisted splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean and the recovery of the crew and capsule.
NASA will use data from this flight to certify that the Crew Dragon is ready for routine flights to the ISS. The next Crew Dragon mission – and the first operational one – is to carry four astronauts: three from NASA and one from the Japanese space agency.