The astronauts have been aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft, called Dragon Endeavor, since Saturday evening when it broke away from the International Space Station.
Behnken and Hurley began their historic two-month trip to the ISS in May, when astronauts launched inside their Dragon Cross spacecraft from a ground platform in Florida. It was the first launch of a NASA astronaut from American soil since 2011 and the first time in history that a commercially developed spacecraft brought humans into orbit.
During the night, the vehicle performed a series of engine burns to lower the vehicle’s altitude, preparing to enter the Earth’s Earth atmosphere dramatically later.
NASA and SpaceX predetermined seven potential delivery locations for this mission, four of which are in west Florida in the Gulf of Mexico: Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, and Panama City. In this area, the wind and wave heights seem calm enough for the crew’s Dragon to land safely.
Still, weather officials are watching the forecasts and could call the exit until the spacecraft begins to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
Behnken and Hurley, married to other NASA astronauts, have young families waiting for them at home. His children have sent an alarm clock message to the astronauts this morning.
“Come on up and shine Dad, we love you! We can’t wait to see you; wake up, wake up! … Don’t worry, you’ll be able to sleep tomorrow. Hurry home so we can go get my dog “. said one of the children.
The astronauts responded to control of the mission: “Hopefully there will be pressure from everyone who makes the time call, because these guys seem excited to take us home.
A safe home is crucial. Although SpaceX previously launched a Crew Dragon on an unreceived demonstration mission, the Hurley and Behnken mission is still considered a test. The two men are veteran NASA astronauts and test pilots specifically trained to respond to any technical issues that may arise in the new vehicle, and NASA will not officially certify Crew Dragon as a human-quality spacecraft until a safe return.