New York, July 19 (IANS) The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that carried two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) late in May is set to depart the orbiting laboratory on August 1 and reach Earth on August 2, marking the end of the first crewed mission for the Elon Musk-led company.
Making the announcement in a tweet, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that “weather will drive the actual date”.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 30, becoming the first crewed launch from the US after the government retired the space shuttle programme in 2011.
This is also the first-ever crewed mission for SpaceX.
“We’re targeting an Aug. 1 departure of @SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft from the @Space_Station to bring @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug home after their historic #LaunchAmerica mission. Splashdown is targeted for Aug. 2. Weather will drive the actual date. Stay tuned,” Bridenstine said in the tweet.
Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations.
The Demo-2 mission is the final major test before NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station.