With the turbulence around the world you’d be forgiven that little under a month ago, SpaceX completed its first mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with crew aboard.
The purpose of the mission was to determine how well the Crew Dragon fares on a live mission with real people. While there are still tests to be done, NASA’s manager of the Commercial Crew Program, Steve Stich, says that the crew – that is astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken – as well as Crew Dragon, could return as soon as 2nd August.
“The first opportunity to undock and come home would be around 2nd August,” said Stich, who added that even though plans can be made, those plans can also fall apart due to outside factors.
That having been said, the mission appears to be going rather well.
“We’re learning a lot about the vehicle, nothing that’s of any concern,” said Stich.
Among those learning’s is the revelation that Crew Dragon is generating more power than expected thanks to its solar arrays out performing the expectations of official predictions.
What is unclear in this mission is where exactly Crew Dragon will splash down. NASA has two options namely just off the coast of Florida in the US and the second is the Gulf of Mexico.
As Ars Technica reports, where the spacecraft lands will depend on the weather for the day.
That report also highlights the reason for Crew Dragon coming home so “soon”.
While testing is needed, this particular mission was done to test out the Crew Dragon and see if it was viable to use for transport to and from the International Space Station.
The sooner the vessel returns the sooner NASA and SpaceX can get to work qualifying the vessel for operational missions.
Among the testing that will still be done is a habitability test.
While Astronauts Hurley and Behnken were the only two aboard Crew Dragon in May, future missions could see up to four astronauts in the capsule according to Space.com.
As such, four crew members will climb into the capsule to practice everyday activities including sleeping, hygiene and other emergency procedures.
With just over a month to go before that 2nd August timeline there is a lot to do aboard the ISS, including space walks the most recent of which you can watch at this URL.