Technology American astronauts on their way to Earth

American astronauts on their way to Earth

Astronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken prepare to undock from the International Space Station, aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on August 1, 2020. – / AP / SIPA

Hurricane risks in Florida have not changed the agenda of the Nasa. The first astronauts to have reached the International Space Station (ISS) aboard an American aircraft in almost 10 years left on Saturday (Sunday in France), in the capsule SpaceX, to return to Earth.

A water landing planned a little before 9 p.m.

“And off they go! Nasa tweeted announcing that Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley had left the ISS, after broadcasting images showing the capsule detaching slowly and smoothly from the craft in the darkness of space. The docking was done on time, around 1:34 am in France, two months after the arrival of the two men on board the capsule created by the company ofElon Musk.

According to the American space agency, the machine took “a safe course”. The landing is scheduled for Sunday at 2:41 p.m. (8:41 p.m. in France) in the Gulf of Mexico. A site off the city of Pensacola, in northern Florida, has been selected as a “priority” for the water landing, with an alternative in front of Panama City, if the sea is too rough or the winds too strong.

A weightless dinosaur

A few hours before departure, the two astronauts bade farewell to the three colleagues they left behind. “The hardest part was getting us into orbit, but the most important thing is to bring us home,” said Bob Behnken a few hours before the deadline. The operation is indeed delicate, even if last year, the Dragon capsule accomplished this mission empty and without incident. Atmospheric reentry will test the resistance of the heat shield. Then, you will have to rely on large parachutes to slow the descent to the ocean.

Speaking to his son and that of his colleague, Bob Behnken brandished a small colorful dinosaur, chosen by the children to accompany them in “this historic mission” and which he let fly in weightlessness for a few moments. “Tremor the Apatosaurus is coming home with your dads!” “, He told them, surrounded by his two Russian colleagues, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, and the head of the mission, Captain Chris Cassidy.

For three billion dollars, granted since 2011 as part of a fixed price contract, SpaceX has promised NASA six round trips to the ISS, with four astronauts on board. The French astronaut Thomas Pesquet announced this week that he will in turn travel aboard Space X’s Crew Dragon for his second mission to the ISS in the spring of 2021.

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