NASA to Broadcast Astronauts’ Splashdown and Return to Earth

Bob Behnken, left and Doug Hurley aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon - Courtesy NASA

Edited by SCOTT RATHMAN

NASA will provide live coverage of the return of the SpaceX Demo-2 test flight with the agency’s astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 1, for undocking of the Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft from the space station and 2:42 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, for splashdown, which will be the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station.

The duo arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website  will begin at 9:10 a.m., Aug. 1, with a short farewell ceremony on station and resume at 5:15 p.m., with departure preparations through splashdown and recovery at one of seven targeted water landing zones in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.

All media participation in news conferences and interviews will be remote; no media will be accommodated at any NASA site due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To participate in the briefings by phone or to request a remote interview with the crew members, reporters must contact the newsroom at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston at 281-483-5111 no later than two hours prior to each event.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Wednesday, July 29

•Approximately 6 p.m. (or one hour after Return Flight Readiness Review completion) – Return Flight Readiness Review briefing at Johnson, with the following participants:

•◦NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

◦Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

◦Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program

◦Benji Reed, director, crew mission management, SpaceX

Friday, July 31

•10:45 a.m. ET – Crew News Conference from the International Space Station, with the following participants:

•◦NASA astronaut Bob Behnken

◦NASA astronaut Doug Hurley

◦NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy

Saturday, Aug. 1

·      9:10 a.m. ET – SpaceX Dragon Demo-2 Farewell Ceremony aboard the International Space Station (ceremony begins about 9:15 a.m.)

·      5:15 p.m. ET – NASA TV undocking coverage begins for the 7:34 p.m. undocking (NASA Television will have continuous coverage from undocking to splashdown)

Sunday, Aug. 2

•2:42 p.m. ET – Splashdown

•5 p.m. ET – Administrator post-splashdown news conference at Johnson, with the following representatives:

◦NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

◦Commercial Crew Program representative

◦International Space Station representative

◦SpaceX representative

◦NASA Astronaut Office representative

A media phone bridge will be available for this event.

Tuesday, Aug. 4

•4:30 p.m. ET – Demo-2 Crew News Conference from the Johnson Space Center, with the following participants

◦NASA astronaut Bob Behnken

◦NASA astronaut Doug Hurley

These activities are a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program,  which has been working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown and recovery operations.

The test flight also is helping NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, which would occur following NASA certification. The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station.