Two NASA astronauts who rode SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon to the International Space Station more than two months ago are planning to return today (Sunday, August 2). The planned splashdown comes as Florida prepares for the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaias, once a Category 1 hurricane.
US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be returning from their voyage to the International Space Station today.
Crew Dragon “Endeavor” decoupled from the orbital station at 7:35pm ET.
Mr Hurley told the remaining US station crew member Chris Cassidy: “It’s been a great two months, and we appreciate all you’ve done as a crew to help us prove out Dragon on its maiden flight.”
Mr Benken said ahead of his exit from the station: “The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important part is bringing us home.”
Where will the Crew Dragon splashdown?
NASA and SpaceX have approved Pensacola, the westernmost city of Florida, for the splashdown.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced on Saturday via Twitter the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft would be targeting Pensacola as its primary landing site.
As a result waiting recovery vessels are being directed to the Gulf of Mexico, to waters off Pensacola.
The vessel is expected to splashdown at 2.48pm ET (7.48pm BST).
After successfully splashing down, the spacecraft will have completed its final key test on whether it can safely transport astronauts to and from space.
Following the Crew Dragon’s launch on May 31, SpaceX became the first private company to send humans to orbit.
The launch also marked the first time NASA launched humans from US soil since 2011.
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Will Hurricane Isaias affect Crew Dragon landing?
Tropical Storm Isaias is not expected to affect the return home on Sunday of SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon.
Prior to approving Pensacola as a safe splashdown site, Nasa and SpaceX were considering seven sites around the state’s peninsula.
Zebulon Scoville, NASA’s flight director, wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning: “So not intuitive, but Isaias may actually help make nice weather on landing a few hundred miles west.”
NASA and SpaceX are monitoring Tropical Storm Isaias’ progress.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) 5am EDT (10am BST) advisory, Tropical Storm Isaias is currently churning with maximum sustained wind speeds of 65mph.
At the time the advisory was issued, the storm was located about 45 miles east-northeast of Fort Lauderdale, and about 45 miles southeast of West Palm Beach in Florida.
The NHC has issued a number of hurricane warnings and storm surge watches, in addition to tropical storm warnings and watches.
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