NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that will transport them to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Their upcoming flight test is known as Demo-2, short for Demonstration Mission 2. The Crew Dragon will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In March 2019, SpaceX completed an uncrewed flight test of Crew Dragon known as Demo-1, which was designed to validate end-to-end systems and capabilities, bringing NASA closer to certification of SpaceX systems to fly a crew.

Astronauts and history makers Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be returning home today after becoming the first astronauts to go to space from American soil in almost 10 years.  After having spent 2 months on the International Space Station, the ‘spacemen’ have already undocked, and will board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft once again, to land in the Atlantic Ocean.

The entire journey will consist of three phases-undocking, coast and splashdown. These phases will require no human interaction, as they will be automated by control systems designed by SpaceX for managing the entire process. Now, you might think that entrusting a space landing to some machines might be a little too daring, but the technology functioned very well in a previous version of the mission that performed something similar, just without actual astronauts in the cockpit.

Bob and Doug were selected by NASA to participate in the Crew Dragon Demo 2 mission, SpaceX’s first attempt at sending humans to Space. The test was successful, and will become the basis for SpaceX’s actual operations-the Crew 1 and Crew 2.

On entering the atmosphere, the Crew Dragon spacecraft  will deploy its parachutes, in an attempt to slow down its descent for the purpose of a safe landing. SpaceX wants to ensure that the spacecraft hits the Atlantic Ocean at just about 15mph. Now, seeing how the initial speed of the craft will be somewhere close to 17,500 mph, there should be significant delay between the undocking and the actual touchdown (or splashdown).

As we write this, the undocking part has successfully completed and the astronauts are currently orbiting the earth. They will be begin the most crucial ‘coast’ phase when the re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, in about a couple of hours from now. Stay tuned.

To conclude, we should see Bob and Doug landing somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48 PM EDT. After that, they will be recovered by a SpaceX crew.

Watch the livestream right here: