SpaceX’s first crewed mission is headed back to Earth. Here’s every step that must go perfectly for 2 NASA astronauts to come home safely.
Two NASA astronauts are currently orbiting Earth in a SpaceX spaceship and about to embark on a fiery fall through the atmosphere, into the ocean.
Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first people to fly SpaceX’s brand-new spaceship, the Crew Dragon, on May 30. It was the first crewed launch from American soil since July 2011 and the first-ever launch of a commercial spacecraft with humans inside. The ship docked to the International Space Station the next day, and Behnken and Hurley have since been conducting science experiments and spacewalks there.
But now comes the hard part: bringing them back to Earth.
Behnken and Hurley must hurtle back through the atmosphere — a voyage that will require the spacecraft to weather temperatures up to 3,500