History was written in May when two NASA Astronauts were taken into space by a Falcon 9 rocket and traveled to the International Space Station aboard a Dragon Crew capsule. Bob Behnken and Dough Hurley have been hard at work since they arrived at the station.
According to a recent press statement provided by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, the pair will soon complete their tour of duty, and the Dragon capsule will leave the ISS on the first day of August, returning to Earth on the following day.
A major achievement
The successful launch that took place in May was required years of planning and work as NASA hoped to regain spaceflight capabilities. Since the end of the Space Shuttle Program, American astronauts have relied on Soyuz capsules to travel through and from the space stations. While the arrangement was convenient, it was also quite expensive.
NASA granted two major contracts to SpaceX and Boeing, who received official approval to design and create spacecraft. SpaceX gained an edge as the Boeing CST-100 Starliner ran into several development issues, with a make-up mission being planned at some point in the future.
Completing the mission
The Crew Dragon capsule has remained docked for several weeks, and then return to Earth will be the final test for the spacecraft. If everything goes according to plan, SpaceX and NASA will organize regular flights to transport astronauts between Earth and the ISS.
New vehicles could be employed in the future as the current one is a demo unit. NASA will keep a close eye on the way in which the heat shield and parachute will work during the return as the security of the astronauts is essential. A recovery vessel operated by SpaceX will pick up the capsule after splashdown.
A new crewed Dragon mission should take place in September.