The American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are on their way to the Gulf of Mexico after more than two months on board the international space station ISS. The astronauts were disconnected on the night from Saturday to Sunday. The pair are on board the crew capsule Space Dragon of space company SpaceX, which is preparing for its first manned landing.
In late May, SpaceX made history when the company sent Behnken and Hurley on their way to the ISS. Not only was it the first time since 2011 that American astronauts took off from their home soil, it was also the first-ever commercial launch of an astronaut spacecraft ever.
The astronauts are picked up by boat by SpaceX when they land on the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Florida. At nearly 5.5 kilometers, the Crew Dragon’s fall is mitigated with the help of large parachutes, while at 2 kilometers, four huge parachutes slow the capsule to a safe landing speed.
The weather conditions for the first manned landing of SpaceX seem favorable. Hurricane Isaiah, which is heading for Florida, does not seem to pass the landing site.
Astronauts land on Earth after a nineteen-hour journey
It is expected to take nineteen hours for the space capsule to enter Earth’s atmosphere and for Behnken and Hurley to land. The astronauts can still sleep for eight hours before they have to prepare for landing.
The pair could have stayed on board the ISS for two months longer, after which the Solar Dragon’s solar panels could be damaged.
The execution of a successful landing is an important milestone for SpaceX. The space company owned by entrepreneur Elon Musk is developing a space program on behalf of the United States government, and this space flight was the first real test for the company.