What Time Does the SpaceX Crew Dragon Return to Earth?
Today marks the SpaceX NASA Crew Dragon’s historic return to Earth with a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. The astronauts flying today are Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. But when is everything scheduled to happen? Read on for the details.The Splashdown Is Scheduled for 2:48 PM Eastern, But the Schedule Could ChangeThe splashdown is currently scheduled for today — Sunday, August 2 at 2:48 p.m. Eastern. However, crews are watching Hurricane Isaias and there’s always a chance that the splashdown location or the timing might have to change a little based on weather conditions. If weather is not acceptable, Crew Dragon might remain in orbit for another 24 to 48 hours, NASA has said.Here’s the current timeline, as provided by NASA and SpaceX. Remember that the timeline is approximate and subject to change.
Around 8:48 a.m. Eastern (approximately six hours before splashdown), conditions will be assessed. NASA notes: “If conditions at the splashdown site are marginal and exceed the accepted criteria, SpaceX and NASA will jointly make a decision about whether to proceed with deorbit.”
Around 1:28 p.m. Eastern — Crew Dragon Claw Separation. NASA notes: “SpaceX will monitor changes to conditions through the decision to proceed with the deorbit burn (30 minutes before claw separation prep), when a final determination to proceed with deorbit will be made.”
1:51 p.m. Eastern — Trunk jettison
1:56 p.m. Eastern — Deorbit burn
Re-entry and parachutes deploy
2:48 p.m. Eastern — Dragon splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola.
Watch the Crew Dragon OnlineSome YouTube channels are providing live coverage about the launch. You can see one below from NASA. It’s also on YouTube here.Another live stream is provided from SpaceX below. This is the Crew Demo-2 stream, which you can also view on YouTube here.The launch of the Crew Dragon in May marked the first human flight to space from the Kennedy Space Center in nine years, NASA shared. This is also the final step before NASA certifies the Crew Dragon for long-duration missions to the space station.This test flight is an important step in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, whose goal is to ultimately provide safe transportation to and from the International Space Station. The launch is known as the Demo-2, demonstrating SpaceX’s ability to fly astronauts safely to and from the space station.So what must conditions be like in order for the splashdown to proceed today? NASA noted the following recovery criteria:
Wind speed no greater than 15 ft/sec
If wave height and wave period are the same, the condition is a no-go. There should be no greater than 7 degrees wave slope.
Rain should be “< 25% probability of 25 dBz in protected boundary”
Lightning should be no less than 10 miles, and there should be no greater than 25% probability of lightning within the protected boundary
There is also a pass-fail test for helicopter start and hover.
Helicopter operational limits will also be considered, such as visibility, ceiling, and vessel pitch and roll.
Today is a historic event, but as always, safety is the top priority. If for any reason the conditions are not favorable, the Crew Dragon might stay in orbit a little longer, NASA explained.READ NEXT: The latest COVID-19 deaths, cases, and updates