Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been aboard the space station since May 31, the day after SpaceX's historic launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the first manned launch from USA soil since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011.
NASA and SpaceX are monitoring the path of Hurricane Isaias, a category 1 cyclone approaching Florida's east coast that could force officials to postpone the homecoming into next week. Hurley said that it would not be new to the crew if he and Benken fell ill while drifting in waves.
If the test mission goes according to plan, NASA aims to send its next space station crew in late September with four astronauts aboard the Dragon.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon is shown here minutes before docking with the International Space Station.More news: British Grand Prix: Hulkenberg to stand in for Perez at Silverstone
Their trip in SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft - named Endeavour - is technically a demonstration flight, showing off the capabilities of the ship as NASA advances private partnerships to revive USA space travel. The capsule has been docked at the space station since May 31, allowing Hurley and Behnken to chip in with spacewalks and experiments. Hurley said, "Dragon's emergency and other equipment have been properly investigated".
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The dragon capsule will remain in the water for about an hour and will then be ejected via a crane and placed on a SpaceX recovery ship. Flight surgeons will be among the dozens of the recovery team members on site. The prime target is off the coast of Panama City, halfway between Tallahassee and Pensacola.
"We won't leave the space station without some good landing opportunities in front of us, good splashdown weather, " Behnken told reporters.More news: Everything Covered In Marvel's Avengers July War Table
Just like the launch, the spaceship's ride back will be wholly automated, with the crew and flight controllers intervening only if necessary. This will mark the first time that the Crew Dragon will bring passengers back to Earth. Following refurbishment, the capsule will fly again next spring with a crew of four - including his wife, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur.
No issues with the capsule have been reported - a situation described by a SpaceX commentator as "pretty boring for the astronauts, but that's what we wanted". NASA's coverage will conclude later in the day with a news conference at 5 p.m. ET.
"And of course, I'll have a lot of tips for her", he said.
Prior to Behnken and Hurley's launch May 30, NASA had been unable to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil since the agency's space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.More news: Lou Williams shares surprising reason why he likes Magic City strip club
The US has paid SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing a total of about $7 billion for their "space taxi" contracts. "With this test flight, NASA and the USA aerospace industry are marking the first successful launch of a crew to the space station on a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft, and a safe return to Earth for that spacecraft and crew".