NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Astronauts Prepare to Depart International Space Station

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, are pictured having just entered the International Space Station on May 31, 2020, shortly after arriving aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, are pictured having just entered the International Space Station on May 31, 2020, shortly after arriving aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are preparing to leave the International Space Station behind this evening after spending more than two months aboard the orbiting laboratory. With NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission drawing to a close, Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to climb aboard the company’s Crew Dragon “Endeavour” just a few minutes from now.

Once Behnken and Hurley have moved into the Crew Dragon, the hatches between the two vehicles will be closed. The “Go-No Go” call is expected around 7:20 p.m. EDT, with undocking at 7:34 p.m. Two small engine burns will put physical distance between the departing Crew Dragon and the station, followed by a series of four departure burns to further move the spacecraft away from the station and start the flight home. Several hours later, one departure phasing burn, lasting about six minutes, will put Crew Dragon on the proper orbital path to line it up with the splashdown zone.

The crew will spend the night in orbit before beginning the journey home. Splashdown is scheduled for 2:48 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying Hurley and Behnken lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 and arrived at the space station the following day. The Demo-2 test flight is helping NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, which would occur following NASA certification.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet.

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