Four astronauts are bringing the red plane home back to Earth.
At 8:35 pm Eastern time on Saturday, a crew of four – three NASA astronauts and one from Japan’s space agency – took off from the International Space Station in a capsule. by SpaceX.
“Thanks for your hospitality, sorry we stayed a little longer,” said Michael Hopkins, commander of Crew Dragon Resilience, referring to the flight departure due to weather delays. . “We will meet you again on Earth.”
The astronauts will orbit the planet several times over the next hour until they plunge early Sunday morning in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Panama City, Fla.
NASA hasn’t carried out a night attack like this since 1968, when Apollo 8, the first mission to bring astronauts around the moon, back to Earth.
When will the astronauts fall to Earth?
The estimated duration of the sale is 2:57 am Eastern time on Sunday. SpaceX in onen update on Saturday afternoon said the weather continued to be favorable for an invasion.
The agency scheduled a press conference with NASA, SpaceX and other officials at 5 a.m. on Sunday.
NASA and SpaceX are streaming information about these activities on NASA TV, or you can watch the video in the player embedded above.
What happened on the astronauts’ home trip?
It will be a long ride. The astronauts boarded Crew Dragon and the hatch closed at 6:26 pm, but then more than two hours passed before the capsule left when the astronauts checked that there were no air leaks from the compartment. Contains the name Resilience, or space station. Recovery automatically unlocks at 8:35 pm and then executes a series of thrusters to move away from the space station.
SpaceX confirms that the propulsion explodes to be completed at 10:17 pm. The capsule will now surround the tree until Florida has lined up in the correct position for it to be thrown into the Gulf of Mexico.
Just before 2:00 in the morning, when preparing to return to Earth, the Dragon Crew will remove what SpaceX calls the “hull” part of the spaceship – the cylindrical cavity below the teardrop capsule. The stalk will burn in the atmosphere.
Five minutes after the stem is detached, the capsule will fire its propulsion motors to fall out of orbit.
Once it is low enough in Earth’s atmosphere, parachutes will be deployed to gently lower the capsule into the sea.
What do astronauts experience when they land on water?
Spacecraft can return to Earth safely on the water or on land.
In the 1960s and 1970s, NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules all crashed into the ocean while the Soviet shuttles all ended their land journey. Current Russian Soyuz spacecraft continue to land on the ground, as well as Shenzhou capsules carrying Chinese astronauts.
NASA returned to the water landing on August 2, 2020, when the first crew member returned to Earth in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule – the same one that carried the astronauts onto the space station. last week – dropped down near Pensacola, Fla.
Returning from the orbital free-fall environment to normal gravity on Earth often distracts astronauts. Landing on water increases the chances of seasickness.
During a press conference last year, Douglas Hurley, a member of the crew who had previously finished landing on the water in the SpaceX compartment, said he had read the astronauts’ reports from the Skylab missions. NASA, some final reports before he made a land landing on the water. “There are some challenges after the sensational event,” he said. “People don’t feel well, and you know, that’s how it happens to a land landing, even if you’re not as depressed as we would.”
Mr. Hurley admitted that vomiting would not be unexpected.
“There are bags if you need them, and we’ll have those handy bags,” he said. He added that “if that had to happen, it would not be the first time that it had happened in a space vehicle.”
Is it safe to land in the sea at night?
NASA says the US spacecraft have not made astronauts’ night-time landings since Apollo 8.
The crew arrived before dawn on December 27, 1968, about 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. The Times the following day called it “a precise sensational incident” and noted that the crew was in their cabin for about 90 minutes before they were caught out of Thai Binh by a squadron of helicopters from USS Yorktown. Ocean. William Anders, the mission’s lunar module pilot, said over the radio while in the cabin, “Get us out of here, I’m not the sailor on this boat.” (James Lovell, his crew member, was a captain in the US Navy.)
SpaceX rehearsed it at night and in January it successfully recalled a cargo capsule that had been thrown into the Gulf of Mexico, west of Tampa Bay.
One advantage of making landings at night is that there can be fewer private boats. That was an issue in August when the previous SpaceX capsule flew down. More than a dozen boats – one of them flying the Trump campaign flag – have gathered in the stand-alone compartment, and some have entered for a closer look.
The episode raised concerns between NASA and SpaceX officials about safety and security procedures. If there is an emergency, private boats may have hindered recovery efforts, NASA officials said. They added that there could be toxic fumes from the capsules that could be dangerous for boaters.
To prevent such a result, the Coast Guard will set up an 11.5-mile safety zone around the splashing site and scare away any intruders.
What is a risk to space debris for astronauts?
Usually, the risk of space junk hitting a spacecraft going to or from a space station is very small. Overall, this is a pretty short ride – about a day – and a spaceship like the Crew Dragon is pretty small, so it’s not a big target for a sassy debris.
But when another group of astronauts, the Crew-2, launched last week on another Crew Dragon, they got a little scared at the mission control at the SpaceX headquarters in California telling them there was a piece of debris. are flying on their way. They put their space suit back on and sit back in case the spacecraft is hit, which can cause a drop in the pressure of the capsule.
The control mission then provides a reassuring update: Further analysis shows that the cosmic debris’ closest approach isn’t that close. As a precaution, however, the astronauts waited until they were told that space debris had passed.
The next day, a NASA spokesperson said the debris was passed by at a distance of 28 miles – not very tight at all.
Then, the US Space Command, which tracks debris orbiting orbit, came up with a more confusing update: The Fragment supposedly by Crew Dragon didn’t exist at all. A Space Command spokesperson said a review was underway to determine the cause of the false alarm.
Who are the astronauts?
There are four astronauts on Crew-1:
Victor Glover45 years old, selected by NASA in 2013 to become an astronaut, is on his first space flight. He is also the first black NASA astronaut to be a member of the space station crew.
Michael S. Hopkins, 52, a colonel in the United States Space Force, is in command of the flight. (Colonel Hopkins was also the first member of the newly formed US Space Force into space.) He was one of the nine astronauts chosen by NASA in 2009. He made a previous trip. then to the International Space Station, in 2013-14, spent 166 days in orbit.
Soichi Noguchi56 years old, an astronaut of JAXA, the Japanese space agency, is completing his third trip to space. He was a member of the space shuttle Discovery crew in 2005, in the first space shuttle launch after the Columbia and its seven astronauts went missing more than two years earlier.
During that visit to the International Space Station, Mr. Noguchi made three space walks. That included an experiment to test techniques developed to repair damage to the heat plates on the shuttle similar to what did to Columbia when it returned to Earth’s atmosphere. In 2009-10, he spent five months in orbit as a member of the space station crew.
Shannon Walker, 55, once worked on a space station in 2010. Dr. Walker holds a Ph.D. in space physics at Rice University, where she studies how the solar wind interacts with the atmosphere of Venus.
What did the astronauts do on the space station?
The space station has been a little more crowded than usual since another SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, Endeavor, arrived on Saturday April 24th. That brought the station’s crew total to 11. , the largest number of astronauts on board since the shuttle stopped (the record for most on board was 13). Four astronauts are leaving seven astronauts – three from NASA, two from the Russian space agency Roscosmos, one from the European Space Agency and one from JAXA.
But while there, they conducted scientific experiments that included pieces that simulated human organs and planted turnips and other vegetables. They also take space walks to install the device outside the space station, including preparing it for new solar panels.
And just before they left, Mr. Glover celebrated his 45th birthday in orbit.
Other astronauts are also enjoying their final moments in orbit with images posted on Twitter.
What happens after a safe landing?
If the landing is similar to the one back in August of last year, SpaceX staff will go to the containment compartment, check if it is intact and not leak any toxic propellant and recall though.
A larger recovery vessel will pull the capsule out of the water. The hatch was then opened to let the four astronauts out.
After a medical examination, the astronauts will enter shore. From there, they will fly to Houston. This compartment will be taken to Cape Canaveral, where it will be refurbished for another flight into space.