Astronauts on SpaceX’s Crew-1 Dragon capsule are now scheduled to return to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) early Sunday.
NASA and SpaceX have delayed the crew’s return twice now due to bad weather; the four astronauts were originally scheduled to return Wednesday after a six-month operation.
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The decision to postpone the crew’s landing for the second time since Wednesday comes “after a review of the expected weather conditions in splashdown zones off the coast of Florida, which predicted wind speeds above the return criteria,” reads a blog post on NASA’s website.
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“Crew Dragon is in good health on the space station, and teams are now predicting ideal conditions for both splashdown and recovery over the weekend,” the blog post states.
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker as well as astronaut Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Soichi Noguchi departed from the Kennedy Space Center on November 15, when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched Crew Dragon. The spacecraft arrived at the ISS on November 17th.
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“Gratitude, wonder, connection,” Glover wrote in a Friday tweet on his 45th birthday. “I’m full of and motivated by these emotions on my birthday as my first mission to space ends. This circuit lab is a true testament to what we can accomplish when working together as a team. Crew-1 is ready for our trip home! “
Astronauts return to Cape Canaveral and Houston on landing, and the Dragon capsule “will be inspected and refurbished for future human space missions,” according to SpaceX.
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The reusable capsule can hold up to seven passengers and is the first private spacecraft ever to carry humans to the ISS; SpaceX has worked with NASA to create fully reusable launch systems that can send humans and cargo into space.
Viewers can stream the astronaut’s return to Earth live on SpaceX’s website, NASA’s website, NASA TV and the NASA app.
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“This will be the first night splashdown of a US manned spacecraft since Apollo 8’s return to the Pacific Ocean on December 27, 1968 with NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders,” NASA’s blog post states.
Crew-1 is the first of six NASA SpaceX manned missions aimed at launching astronauts from US rockets onto US soil, according to NASA.