How to Watch NASA SpaceX Crew Return to Earth

While the rest of us suckers suffered a pandemic all summer, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley spent the last few months on the International Space Station. They have been there since May 31 following a successful flight on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But today they begin their journey back to Earth, and you can watch the whole process, courtesy of NASA. Here’s how.

How to watch a SpaceX flight back

While the exact time for the Dragon spacecraft “Endeavor” to undock from the space station will depend on the weather, NASA and SpaceX are targeting 7:34 pm ET tonight. Then tomorrow (Sunday, Aug 2), they estimate that the Atlantic Ocean will be flooded around 2:42 PM EST at one of seven target landing zones in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. According to NASA, this will mark the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from a space station.

You can watch all the action on the NASA website . Lighting begins at 9:10 am with a farewell ceremony at the International Space Station. Here is the full weekend schedule:

Saturday 1st August

  • 9:10 AM EST – Farewell to SpaceX Dragon Demo-2 aboard the International Space Station (ceremony starts at approximately 9:15 AM)
  • 5:15 pm ET – The undocking begins at 7:34 pm ET on NASA TV (NASA TV will provide continuous coverage from undocking to splashdown).

Sunday, August 2nd.

  • 02:42 PM EST – Splashdown
  • 5:00 PM EST – Admin press conference after splashdown.

If you’re wondering exactly what the purpose of this mission was, here is NASA’s explanation :

The test flight is also helping NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for scheduled flights that take astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is preparing equipment for the first rotational mission, which will take place after NASA certification.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is to safely, reliably and economically transport to and from the International Space Station. This could provide additional time for exploration and increase opportunities for discovery aboard humanity’s test bed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

If you haven’t had any weekend plans yet, now you have.


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