SpaceX has entered the final stage of its historic first flight of people: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are on their way home.
Behnken and Hurley boarded the company’s new Crew Dragon spaceship on Saturday, undocked from the International Space Station, and flew away.
The crew is now targeting a landing of their ship, which they named “Endeavour,” in the Gulf of Mexico on around 2:41 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has described the landing phase as his “biggest concern” for the mission.
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Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are on their way home.
The two NASA astronauts departed the International Space Station on Saturday evening, beginning a roughly day-long voyage to their families on Earth.
Hurley and Behnken left in a vehicle called Crew Dragon “Endeavour,” a spaceship designed, built, and operated by SpaceX with about $2.7 billion in government funding.
The ship’s departure makes SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, the first company in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to successfully pull off a visit to the $150 billion, football field-size laboratory.
But Behnken and Hurley’s return trip has just begun. Now that they’ve flown away from the ISS, they must perform a risky descent through Earth’s atmosphere — the phase of the flight that Musk said is his “biggest concern.”
If the flight successfully lands on Sunday afternoon, it would be the first American crewed spaceship to leave and land back on Earth since July 2011, when NASA retired its space shuttle program.
From 17,5000 mph to zero
Behnken and Hurley began squirreling supplies, experiments, and personal effects — including an historic American flag — into Endeavour early Saturday morning.
Once they were packed up, they said goodbye to the ISS crew members they worked with for 63 days: NASA astronaut Chris …read more
Source:: Business Insider