What to know about the historic launch on Wednesday – Astronomy Magazine

Posted: June 1, 2020 at 3:46 am

During the Crew Dragon mission, Hurley will handle the launch, landing, and recovery, while Behnken will be responsible for rendezvousing with the ISS, as well as overseeing autonomously docking and undocking procedures with the space station.


After launch, it will take the capsule a little over 24 hours to reach the ISS. SpaceX designed the Crew Dragon to dock autonomously to the station without the aid of the astronauts, but the crew already on the ISS will also be aiding in the process in case something goes wrong.

During their time in space, the astronauts will become a part of Expedition 63, the current mission with crew already stationed on the ISS. Theyll also be responsible for conducting tests on the Crew Dragon and performing other experiments.

Behnken and Hurley dont have a set return date to Earth, though. The duration of the mission will be determined once the two reach the ISS, based on when NASA and their private partners can launch again.

Once their mission ends, whenever that may be, the capsule will bring back a significant Apollo-era moment the splashdown. Once the mission is over, the Crew Dragon will undock from the ISS and begin the trip back to Earth. The capsule will begin burning up as it soars through Earths atmosphere, though the capsule is built to sustain that pressure and heat. Once it gets closer to Earth, a collection of parachutes will deploy, bringing Hurley and Behnken to Earth safely.

The splashdown was a welcomed moment during the Apollo era, as it marked the safe return of the astronauts. The space shuttle landed like a plane on a runway.

SpaceX isnt the only private player in Americas spacefaring ventures. Boeing is also on track to launch astronauts into space soon, but first they have to pass one more test; successfully docking an uncrewed capsule with the ISS. Once thats complete, Boeing will be beside SpaceX, launching American astronauts and their international partners once again.

So, although NASA hopes to finally end the nearly 10-year drought in crewed U.S. spaceflights this week, astronauts within the next year could have two potential carriers. And one thing that often comes along with competition is innovation. So stay tuned, because the private space race is ramping up.

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What to know about the historic launch on Wednesday - Astronomy Magazine

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