American Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard has undocked from the International Space Station on Saturday at 19:35 US east coast time, NASA is broadcasting live.
The spacecraft is expected to splash down off Florida’s coast on Sunday at 14:42 local time. Deputy Manager for Commercial Crew in NASA Steve Stich earlier noted that the landing site will depend on weather conditions, while a range of parameters will be taken into account like wave height, lighting and visibility, TASS reported.
The astronaut evacuation will involve more than 40 specialists, two rescue vessels, two high-speed boats and a few helicopters. One speedboat will be used to check that the spacecraft is hermetically sealed, while the other will recover the parachute system. Astronauts are expected to be moved to the rescue vessel for a checkup and will be delivered to Florida by air or water in four hours.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was launched to the ISS on May 30 as the launch marked the first manned flight in nine years from the United States using a US spacecraft. NASA stopped crewed flights in 2011 after the Space Shuttle program came to an end. Subsequently, all astronauts were delivered to the ISS and back by Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. It was originally thought that US commercial ships would begin manned flights in 2017.