Crew Dragon and his team, who will start tomorrow to the final stage of his mission that started on May 30, must successfully complete many steps in the return journey. Let’s take a look at all the steps we know.
On May 30, NASA and SpaceX kicked off an extremely important mission for both the US and the world. NASA successfully launched 2 NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), along with the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon vehicle from a private space company, SpaceX. Astronauts, who managed to reach ISS on May 31, have been working on the station and Crew Dragon since then. Two weeks ago, NASA also explained the date when astronauts will step back into the world, shedding light on when the demo-2 mission will end.
In a statement made by NASA, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will start their 24-hour journey on August 1, 2020, tomorrow, by riding Crew Dragon to step back on Earth again. Thus, astronauts and Crew Dragon spacecraft will have been in space for exactly 2 months.
So, what steps will be taken before and after the astronauts’ fall to Earth, which will take 24 hours in total? Let’s see the steps to be followed in the second phase of this mission, which is revolutionary for the history of space, from the very beginning to the very end.
Crew Dragon’s return journey steps:
Astronauts will board SpaceX’s spacecraft Crew Dragon.
Crew Dragon will pull back his hooks when he is ready to leave the ISP with which he has been clamped. (It will leave at 02:34 on the night connecting Saturday to Sunday.)
Crew Dragon will fire his thrusters very slowly to drive himself away from the ISS.
When Crew Dragon is far enough away from the ISS, the capsule will make an aggressive firing to get him on the path needed to fall close to Florida.
At this point, Crew Dragon will leave the section with fuel tanks, solar panels and other equipment that astronauts no longer need. The equipment will be burnt as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
With this stage, the heat shields of Crew Dragon will also come into play. The vehicle will begin its fall on Earth after pushing itself towards the atmosphere with its repellents for 6 more minutes. At this stage, the heat shields will be exposed to a temperature of about 2000 degrees Celsius. The vehicle will drop at 25 times the speed of sound.
Minutes later, Crew Dragon will open his parachutes as he falls from the denser layers of the atmosphere. The first parachute vehicle was 18,000 feet above ground; the second parachute will open when the vehicle is 6,000 feet above ground.
If all goes well, Crew Dragon will land on Sunday at 21:42, close to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Astronauts will also have successfully completed the Demo-2 mission, with 1 death rate in 276.
But not everything will end with landings: Behnken and Hurley will wait for the rescue team to arrive in the capsule between 30 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the weather and spacecraft status.
Rescuers will do a preliminary checkup of astronauts when they arrive in the spacecraft. Astronauts will then be taken to the shore by a helicopter and embarked on a plane to Houston.
Once the Demo-2 mission has been successfully completed, NASA will use Crew Dragon to regularly send and bring its astronauts to the ISS, and will end its commitment to the Russian Soyuz rocket.
According to NASA’s contract with SpaceX, Crew Dragon will go to ISS 6 more times after the Demo-2 mission. The first of these flights will take place towards the end of September.