NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that they’re targeting August 1 as the departure date to return American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from the International Space Station back down to Earth; their capsule should touch-down a day later on August 2. Bridenstine says the actual date and time could be impacted by weather conditions.
On May 30 at 3:22:45 pm ET, SpaceX made history by carrying Behnken and Hurley to space atop its Falcon 9 rocket in their Crew Dragon spacecraft. After a successful launch from NASA Kennedy Space Center on the “space coast” of Florida, the spacecraft had a smooth journey to the ISS, conducting spacecraft tests along the way. This was the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 that astronauts were lifted into space from American soil. It’s also the first time a private company, SpaceX, brought astronauts to space.
While on the ISS, Behnken and Hurley continued to do checks on the Crew Dragon while conducting other work on the space station. Their return will mark the end of Demo-2 to prove the Crew Dragon is travel-worthy for future crewed missions. Once Hurley and Behnken are back on Earth, NASA engineers will review data from the Crew Dragon test flight before formally certifying the SpaceX crew capsule design for future operational crew missions to and from the space station.
For now, SpaceX is under contract to fly six “post-certification missions” of shuttling crew back/forth to the ISS through the mid-2020s.