Last May 30, 2020, SpaceX launched a two-man mission aboard the Falcon 9 for the Demo-2 test flight. Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the two astronauts sent for the mission arrived at the International Space Station a day after launch.
Now the crew is being called home. A review on the safety of the flight back to earth was done on July 29 and then given the green light. However, the initial date of splashdown to a beach in Florida, August 2, might be postponed due to weather conditions in the state.
Tropical Storm Isaias has been wreaking havoc in Puerto Rico, causing massive flash floods and landslides. It’s taking a path towards the coast of Florida at wind speeds of at least 60 mph.
Crew Dragon is supposedly scheduled to undock from the ISS by August 1, then land off the beach of Florida past 2 pm of August 2. The storm is predicted to increase strength to the extent of becoming a hurricane. If it continues, Dragon’s flight home might have to be moved to a later date.
Wind power will be the rate-limiting step for the flight. Even in the absence of a storm, it would still be a factor to monitor. NASA needs to ensure appropriate weather conditions for the splashdown locations before approval for undocking. There are three days worth of supplies for the crew for when the spacecraft is in orbit.
The postponed date would be August 3, and a thorough daily evaluation will be done.
Astronauts have conducted many tests on the Dragon’s performance, and also tried boarding four people to determine its capacity. Results have shown the good performance of the spacecraft.
Once it gets home, immediate inspection will be done to the spacecraft to certify it for reuse in future flights, which will take some six weeks to process. If all goes well, Crew-1 mission will be a go in September onboard the same spacecraft.