NASA and SpaceX plan to send the manned spacecraft back to Earth on Sunday after it left the International Space Station on Saturday,media BGR reported. Now, a tropical storm threatens some recycling areas, putting plans in doubt. NASA has been keeping a close eye on the recently named Tropical Storm Isaias, which, based on its current trajectory, will approach several of the planned landing zones of the manned Dragon spacecraft on Sunday.
NASA Director Jim Bridenstine said the agency believes the manned Dragon spacecraft will face “some weather problems” when it leaves the International Space Station on Saturday. Steve Stich, director of the commercial crew program, added at a recent news conference that the space agency “will not even try to lift” the spacecraft if the weather looks bad for the next day’s landing.
Once the manned dragon spacecraft is carrying two astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, it may not have to return directly to Earth. The spacecraft was able to support the two men in Earth orbit for at least a few days before they had to land.
“The team will continue to closely monitor Tropical Storm Isaias and assess the impact on the weather around the Florida Peninsula, including potential spillpoints along the Gulf of Mexico and the state’s Atlantic coast.” NASA said. “NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on the main splash target about six hours before the docking on Saturday.”
At present, despite the weather problems, departures are still planned, but as is often the case, these things can change quickly. If the departure time has to be postponed from August 1, NASA is likely to quickly choose a new return date. SpaceX’s manned dragon spacecraft cannot be certified by NASA until it completes its final mission, which is to safely return humans to Earth. Once it is certified, NASA can begin to use the manned Dragon spacecraft for routine missions.