Roundup: NASA plans to return astronauts on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft in early August

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WASHINGTON, July 17 (Xinhua) — NASA is targeting Aug. 2 for return of its two astronauts in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station (ISS), agency chief Jim Bridenstine confirmed on Friday.

“We’re targeting an Aug. 1 departure of SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft from the Space Station to bring Behnken and Doug home after their historic #LaunchAmerica mission,” Bridenstine said via Twitter.

“Splashdown is targeted for Aug. 2. Weather will drive the actual date,” he said.

Splashdown and recovery would mark the conclusion of NASA and SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission, the first time SpaceX has flown astronauts.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley took off from U.S. soil on May 30, riding aboard Crew Dragon spacecraft in a historic test flight to the ISS.

The mission, dubbed Demo-2, is the first crewed launch to orbit from U.S. soil since NASA’s shuttle program ended in 2011, and also the first-ever manned space launch by a private company, ushering in a new era of U.S. space exploration.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the orbiting laboratory a day after, as the spacecraft performed a series of phasing maneuvers to position itself for rendezvous and docking with the ISS.

This is SpaceX’s final test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations.

The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station, according to NASA. Enditem

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