After launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida in a SpaceX crew dragon capsule, people have been aboard the International Space Station for two months.
Their journey began with a historic May launch that marked the first crew’s mission to fly through US soil in nearly a decade, and it may be the first of many if the capsules hit Florida this weekend. Be safely scattered on the banks of.
As of Thursday night, the space agency said in a tweet, NASA said it still plans to proceed with the spatter, but “teams will continue to monitor the weather on Saturday night.”
A safe homecoming is important. Although SpaceX had already launched a drugged dragon on a drugged demonstration mission, Hurley and Bacon’s mission is still considered a test. Both men are NASA astronauts and test pilots specifically trained to react to any technical issues that may arise on a new vehicle, and NASA officially calls Crew Dragon a human-rated spacecraft Will not certify the form until it makes a safe return.
And the return journey is, in some cases, an even riskier journey than the launch. The Crew Dragon would need to slice back through the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of 17,500 mph. Rapid air compression and Friction between air and spacecraft According to NASA, the outside of the spacecraft will heat about 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Behken described his experience re-illuminating the atmosphere on previous NASA missions last year: “You actually see the light from the atmosphere as it heats the outer parts of the spacecraft. You see some orange light flickering the plasma Let’s see because it’s past on the windows. “She said. “The vehicle is passing very seriously – and we would expect it to take care of us as it leads us through the entry.”
Then, as the crew arrives near Dragon Earth, he will deploy a small set of parachutes, called “drug parachutes”, before a large plume of four parachutes begins to slow his descent into the vehicle. To slow down even more. If all goes well, the crew dragon will travel under 20 mph when the water hits.
Hurley said the astronaut crew would experience a lot of G-forces on the dragon. And it will mark the first time that astronauts have landed in water since 1975.
Even after the splatter, the journey can be troublesome. The water can disturb the spacecraft, making it uncomfortable for astronauts as they wait for recovery ships to arrive.
“It takes a little time to do this … we both have to have the appropriate hardware ready so that we feel a little sick,” Behnken said during a news conference on Friday. “Hardware,” the astronaut clarified, would be a paper bag, much like the airlines had put in a seat-back pocket for passengers who had stopped.
Bacon and Hurley will also need to land in a location with calm weather so that the cracking winds and high waves do not splatter or interfere with the recovery process. This means that the weather criteria for splashdown is much stricter than at launch.
NASA and SpaceX officials will continue to monitor all types of forecasts until the crew recovers the dragon atmosphere.
The stand-off with Mother Nature has already been a recurring theme of Hurley and Behenken’s journey. His first launch attempt in May was razed by thunderclap. And during their second (successful) launch attempt on May 31, the countdown clock ticked to zero as another batch of storm clouds cleared the sky.
If the weather halts the crew dragon this weekend, NASA and SpaceX will try again next Wednesday, August 5.