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Rare Splashdown Nears

Crew expects to bob in the water off Florida for a while before being picked up
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 31, 2020 5:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Two US astronauts about to make the first splashdown return in 45 years said Friday they'll have seasick bags ready if needed. SpaceX and NASA plan to bring Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken back Sunday afternoon in the company's Dragon capsule, aiming for the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida Panhandle. Flight controllers are keeping close watch on Hurricane Isaias, expected to stick to Florida’s east coast, the AP reports. Hurley said that if he and Behnken get sick while bobbing in the waves awaiting recovery, it won’t be the first time for a crew. Astronauts returning in the early 1970s from Skylab, NASA's first space station, did not feel well following splashdown, Hurley noted. Feeling sick "is the way it is with a water landing," he said during the crew’s final news conference from the International Space Station.

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This will be SpaceX's first splashdown with astronauts on board, ending a two-month test flight that began at NASA's Kennedy Space Center—the first launch of a crew from the US in nearly a decade. The capsule has been docked at the space station since May 31, allowing Hurley and Behnken to chip in with spacewalks and experiments. Hurley said emergency equipment has checked out aboard Dragon, dubbed Endeavour. The capsule will be in the water for about an hour before it's hauled by crane onto a SpaceX recovery ship; it will be another hour before the hatch is opened. The plan is for the Dragon to undock from the space station Saturday. "We won’t leave the space station without some good landing opportunities in front of us, good splashdown weather," Behnken said. "We could stay up here longer. There’s more chow, and I know the space station program's got more work that we can do."

(Read more SpaceX stories.)

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