SpaceX may delay astronauts landing as a major hurricane chief for Florida


  • SpaceX just got NASA approval to carry the company’s first space mission to the masses, called Demo-2, back to Earth.
  • But two NASA astronauts called NASA’s Dragon on a Space X ship may have to wait for a tropical storm to clear away from the sea splash.
  • NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley boarded SpaceX’s ship on May 30 and went into space a day later for the International Space Station.
  • At least two of the seven planned landing sites cannot take off until astronauts are in good weather, although their crew dragon ship is designed to remain in the ISS for another two months.
  • NASA told Business Insider that it is monitoring the situation and that Bacon, Hurley and their spacecraft “can easily orbit if necessary.”
  • For more stories visit the Business Insider homepage.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who created history in space on May 30 by becoming the first to orbit people aboard a SpaceX vehicle, may see their weekend homecoming plans wind up.

After SpaceX’s crew Drew “Endeavor” docked at the International Space Station and spent two months there, people are preparing to go there on Saturday. They are scheduled to return to Earth on Sunday at 2:48 pm ET.

NASA is overseeing SpaceX’s experimental mission, called Demo-2, and on Wednesday gave the company a “go” to proceed with its landing plan. But both parties noted that astronauts could be out of orbit in a short period of time due to hurricanes in the Caribbean.

“We can’t wait for Bob Bacon and Doug Hurley to come back to Earth. But of course we have some weather pending,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said during press talks on Wednesday.

Crew Dragon cannot descend if rain, lightning, big waves or winds of more than 10 mph

SpaceX Crew Dragon Spaceship Demo 1 Demo 1 Parachute Splash Down Splashdown Atlantic Ocean Cape Canaveral Florida NASA KSC 20190308 PH_CSH01_0192_orig

SpaceX’s crew dragon is guided by four parachutes as it plunges into the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles off the east coast of Florida on March 8, 2019, after returning from the International Space Station on a Demo-1 mission.

Corey Huston / NASA



The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts the possibility of the formation of the tropical tropical storm, which is on its way to collide with Florida.

The 500-mile-wide storm – currently named as a possible tropical cyclone nine – could affect several landing zones such as the Endeavor to resume Earth’s atmosphere, deploy its parachute, and make a splash in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Is considered for.

All seven landing zones that SpaceX and NASA earmarked for test missions, called Demo-2, are within or near the “cone probability” for the storm’s path or for possible sustained winds of about 40 mph. situated at.

They are located off the coasts of Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona and Jacksonville, according to the NASA fact sheet for the Splashdown site (shown below) Demo-2 Departure and Splashdown Criteria.

Tropical Storm Isaac NHC Predicted Wind Speed ​​Prospects Cone Florida SpaceX Demo 2 Demo 2 Landing Zone Dave Mosher Business Insider Google Earth

A map as of July 29, 2020, showing the landing areas of NASA and SpaceX for the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission, amid the projected path and conditions to beat the tropical storm Christian. The outer edge green indicates a 5–10% chance of continuous tropical storm-force winds.

Google Earth; NOAA; NASA; business Insider


Depending on how large the storm is, if and when it arrives, and how bad weather conditions become, mission managers can think thoughtlessly and thwart the landing attempt. Steep waves, rain, lightning, low clouds, poor visibility (for helicopters flying from a SpaceX retrieval boat to a helicopter), or strong winds higher than about 10 mph make the “no-go” decision. Can trigger.

“We are going to watch the weather very carefully,” NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich said during Wednesday’s briefing.

Once the astronauts are undone, they have to take off in about three days’ time, as it only contains enough water and lithium hydroxide – which scrubs carbon dioxide from the air – to last Bacon and Hurley for that long. For the time being, Stich said.

While docked for the ISS, however, Endeavor can be life support and last longer. The vehicle has been in space for 63 days, but this version of the Crew Dragon is designed for about 120 days due to its solar panel design, Stich said. In theory, that gives SpaceX and NASA the most opportunities to safely bring Behenken and Hurley back home through September.

Stich at two of the seven landing sites noticed that there are acceptable landing conditions, and the noted SpaceX and NASA could call an hour late to delay the entire sequence and try again another day.

“If the weather is looking bad that day, we won’t even try,” Stich said. “The beauty of this vehicle is that we can stop for the space station.”

As part of the process of approving a landing, NASA and SpaceX used a robotic arm to survey the heat shield of the crew dragon for damage by space demise, 3,500 degrees during atmospheric reorientation. Fahrenheit temperatures must withstand.

“There were no areas on the vehicle that were of any concern for entry,” Stich told Business Insider during the briefing.

This story has been updated with new information.

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