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SpaceX Crew Dragon undocks from space station

Published : 02 Aug 2020, 11:16

  DF News Desk

Photo taken on May 23, 2020 shows NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (L) and Robert Behnken participating in a dress rehearsal for launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the United States. Photo Kim Shiflett/NASA/Handout via Xinhua.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon "Endeavour" spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley undocked from the forward end of the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday to complete a two-month mission, reported Xinhua.

The spacecraft undocked from Harmony module of the ISS at 7:35 p.m. EDT (2335 GMT), said NASA.

Two very small engine burns separated Crew Dragon from the ISS, and the spacecraft is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return the astronaut crew and its cargo safely to Earth, according to NASA.

Once flying free, the spacecraft will autonomously execute four departure burns to move the spaceship away from the ISS and begin the flight home.

"'Dragon departing.' The @SpaceX Dragon Endeavour undocked and separated from @Space_Station. @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug are on their way home to planet Earth," NASA tweeted.

NASA later confirmed the spacecraft has exited the "approach ellipsoid" around the space station and is on a safe trajectory.

Crew Dragon will be traveling at orbital velocity prior to re-entry, moving at approximately 17,500 miles (28,000 km) per hour. The maximum temperature it will experience on re-entry is approximately 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,927 degrees Celsius).

NASA and SpaceX are targeting Pensacola in the Gulf of Mexico as the primary return location for splashdown and recovery for Crew Dragon with two American astronauts, scheduled at 2:41 p.m. Eastern Time (1841 GMT) on Sunday.

Recovery ships at splashdown sites will have personnel, including spacecraft engineers, trained water recovery experts, medical professionals, the ship's crew, cargo experts and others to assist in the recovery, said NASA.

The two astronauts arrived at the ISS in the Crew Dragon on May 31 following a launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission, dubbed Demo-2, is the first crewed launch to orbit from U.S. soil since NASA's shuttle program ended in 2011, and also the first-ever manned space launch by a private company, ushering in a new era of U.S. space exploration.

This is also SpaceX's final test flight for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations.