SpaceX capsule carrying NASA astronauts set to return on August 2

Since 2011, when the US space shuttle program ended, NASA astronauts have had to go into orbit aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

By Reuters | Posted by: Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Cape Canaveral, United States

UPDATE JUL 18, 2020, 12:37 p.m. IST

NASA astronauts who traveled to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s first crewed flight in May are expected to return to Earth on August 2 after spending two months in orbit, a NASA spokesperson said on Friday.

US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will prepare for the final benchmark test of SpaceX’s so-called Demo-2 mission: a coordinated splashdown somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean that will complete NASA’s first manned mission since American soil in nearly a decade.

Since 2011, when the US space shuttle program ended, NASA astronauts have had to go into orbit aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Boeing Co, which produces its own launch system in competition with SpaceX, is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner with astronauts on board for the first time next year. NASA has awarded nearly $ 8 billion combined to SpaceX and Boeing for the development of their rival rockets.

Behnken is preparing for his final spacewalk on July 21 before preparing with Hurley to depart from the space station, NASA said. Earth mission planners will look at the weather forecast to calculate the exact time and location of Crew Dragon’s water landing, the NASA spokesman said, adding that the date could slip.

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