NASA officials say they are considering returning to Earth in late July or early August for two U.S. astronauts who have just entered the International Space Station. In the early hours of May 31, Beijing time, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A, putting the SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying two American astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, into orbit and successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS).
It was a significant launch for BOTH NASA and SpaceX.
According to NASA, Becken and Hurley will stay on the International Space Station for one to four months. The exact length of stay depends on a number of factors, including the degradation of solar panels, the condition of the Dragon spacecraft used for the next launch, and the weather conditions in the landing area. NASA officials have said they are considering returning two astronauts to Earth in late July or early August.
“We didn’t set the length of the last mission until we put the crew into orbit and then look at the manned Dragon spacecraft,” Ken Bowersox, NASA’s acting director of manned space programs, said yesterday. At the moment, the ship is doing very well. We believe that it is reasonable for the crew to stay there for a month or two. Details are still being worked out. “
If all goes well, NASA expects SpaceX’s next mission, crew-1, to be launched in late August or early September. Crew-1 will carry three NASA astronauts, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
In order to carry out the Crew-1 mission, Becken and Hurley must return to Earth a few weeks before the planned launch date to evaluate and certify the manned Dragon spacecraft. To that end, NASA is considering returning two astronauts to Earth in late July or early August. (Li Ming)