SpaceX’s historic first crewed mission is about to come to an end, and you can watch the conclusion as it happens. NASA TV is providing live coverage as astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley undock Crew Dragon and return to Earth. The broadcast starts at 5PM Eastern, although Behnken and Hurley won’t close the hatch until 5:45PM. The departure itself is scheduled for 7:34PM Eastern.
You’ll probably want to get some rest soon after that. Splashdown in the Atlantic isn’t expected until August 2nd at 2:42PM Eastern. This is also assuming the departure isn’t delayed. Hurricane Isaias may push back the journey if it renders landing sites off-limits.
Whenever there’s a return, it’ll mark the successful completion of the first round trip of a private crewed space capsule. While this kind of mission won’t be routine for a long time, it represents an important moment in the shift away from strictly government-run spaceflight. The next major step may involve flights with civilians.
Behnken and Hurley also weren’t just on the station for show. They both conducted and assisted with numerous experiments, such as Earth observation studies and research into water droplets in microgravity. On that front, Crew Dragon’s mission may have been as helpful to science as it was to SpaceX’s long-term future.
"Now as Doug mentioned, we're about to embark on the final portion of the journey... The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important part is bringing us home." - @AstroBehnken on the #LaunchAmerica crew's return to Earth aboard the @SpaceX Dragon Endeavour pic.twitter.com/tEeL05gXWe
— NASA (@NASA) August 1, 2020