The two astronauts will wait for rescue boats in the waters of the Florida coast
Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken began undocking the Dragon Endeavor capsule from the International Space Station on Saturday to return home.
The first contact of American astronauts with the planet’s surface will be on the waters off the coast of Florida (Southeast USA) around 14:40 local time this Sunday.
A successful landing will be seen as a sign that the United States has, in return, an efficient system for putting crew into orbit and achieving their return.
A quality that had not been seen since 2011, when the country gave up continuing to use ferries.
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The US space agency NASA and its business partner, SpaceX, owned by millionaire Elon Musk, have chosen the location for the astronauts’ return away from the tropical Isaiah system, which is located very close to Florida.
The US entity had been planning to outsource the transport of crew to the International Space Station (EEI) since the early 2000s.
Hurley and Behnken left Earth on May 31.
The technicians responsible for monitoring the mission have strict protocols for evaluating wind and wave conditions and will analyze these factors until the last moment before giving final approval for re-entry.
When that happens, Hurley and Behnken’s capsule will fire up their thrusters to start leaving orbit
When that happens, Hurley and Behnken’s capsule will fire their thrusters to begin leaving orbit.
It is a high speed descent.
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Initially it will advance at several kilometers per second, while experiencing a warming of up to 2,000 ° C in its protected shell on its way to the atmosphere.
Two special parachute teams are scheduled to deploy once this happens.
One of them will activate at about 5,500 meters above sea level, when the capsule still drops to approximately 560 kilometers per hour.
Then four more devices will be deployed, approximately 1,800 meters high.
This should allow the ship to descend smoothly into the ocean.
45 years have passed since the last US manned capsule made a return on the ocean.
The previous time it was an Apollo vehicle that returned to the Pacific Sea after a journey close to a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft on Earth.
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As a prelude to the return, Doug Hurley said he had read the reports of that episode and explained that the astronauts could experience nausea when they swayed in the water waiting for rescue boats.
“There are bags if they are needed, and we will have them on hand,” he said Friday.
With good spirits, he stated that they will also have “some towels on hand too”.
“If that has to happen, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. People who fly in space know that sometimes going uphill can have an effect on your system and other times downhill. in the same way “.
Astronauts took off in late May in the Crew Dragon capsule, developed by NASA and SpaceX, bound for the International Space Station.
His ascent occurred on a Falcon-9 rocket, also provided by SpaceX, and is considered the start of a new era in American space flight, a landmark event.
The capsule has parachute systems to impact the ocean without major complications. POT
NASA decided that it will no longer own or operate crew transport vehicles in Earth orbit, so it began purchasing this service from business partners such as Elon Musk’s company.
California-based SpaceX thus became the first provider.
Much of its technology, including parts of the Falcon-9 rocket, is reusable.
This new approach greatly reduced costs, according to NASA executive Jim Bridenstine.
“We basically established the high level criteria, the requirements, in terms of payload and security, but we are not involved in the design of everything, “he explained.
The NASA agent indicated that private companies are now called to make innovations.
“Now we are reusing these rockets, reusing the capsules and, of course, we want to apply this to the Moon and, finally, Mars,” the official explained.
Another detail of this expected return is that Hurley and Behnken bring back a commemorative United States flag that the crew of the last shuttle mission left on the Space Station in 1981.