NASA astronauts NASA astronauts

NASA astronauts return home after 2 months in orbit

NASA astronauts Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley, are scheduled to return to Earth Sunday, August 2 after two months on the International Space Station. Watch the live coverage below!

  • Behnken and Hurley, left on the first commercial trip in May on SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule. 
  • NASA announced the return for Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola, Florida, at 2:41 p.m.
  • Concerns over Hurricane Isaias have ruled out possible splashdowns on the Atlantic Ocean.

After Crew Dragon undocks on Saturday night, it has to perform a series of maneuvers. First the spacecraft has to fire the engines several times to move away from the space station. And after a few hours it lines up with the splashdown zone. The trip is planned so that the astronauts can sleep for better part of the journey. Sleep is necessary when the journey exceeds 6 hours, since the process of undocking takes several hours and otherwise the astronauts would end up working for more than 20 hours without a rest. 

The storms may delay the landing for another day or two. Weather conditions must be appropriate for the splashdown, this takes into consideration that winds can't exceed 10 miles per hour, waves, rain and lighting constraints are a detriment. 

A successful splashdown will mean the start of more trips into space. However, the re-entry into the atmosphere is the second most dangerous phase of spaceflight because friction of air causes the temperature at the bottom of the capsule to rise at 3500 Fahrenheit. This procedure was successfully tested last year, so no worries there!

Once the capsule finally splashes in the water, it can take between 45 and 60 minutes to get the astronauts out.

Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley
 

More News