NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley received the green light to conduct the final step of their test flight demonstration mission for SpaceX on Saturday.

The crew will soon begin undocking the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft from the International Space Station as they begin their journey back to Earth. The spacecraft will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere before deploying parachutes and splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico.

A recovery helicopter will land on a helicopter pad on a ship near the splashdown site. The capsule will be recovered by a crane arm attached to another ship in the gulf.

NASA chose Pensacola, Florida, for the site of the historic astronaut splashdown after determining seven potential splashdown sites. The splashdown site in the Gulf of Mexico is the furthest west of where Tropical Storm Isaias is predicted to make landfall on Sunday. Panama City will be the backup site location if required.

Undocking coverage begins at 5:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 1. NASA will continue to provide coverage of the historic event through splashdown at 2:41 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 2. Undocking is expected to begin at 7:34 p.m. ET.

The two astronauts were the first humans to travel inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The vehicle arrived at the International Space Station at the end of May after launching on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The test flight demonstration mission is intended to clear the way for SpaceX to regularly send astronauts to the ISS from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Timeline

SpaceX details the 19-hour process of departure and recovery of astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley for the second demonstration mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The schedule accommodates sleep time for both astronauts during their return to Earth. All times listed in ET:

August 1
5:35 p.m. Dragon hatch closure
7:34 p.m. Dragon automatically undocks from the ISS
7:35 p.m. Departure burn 0
7:40 p.m. Departure burn 1
8:27 p.m. Departure burn 2
9:14 p.m. Departure burn 3
August 2
1:44 p.m. Trunk jettison
1:49 p.m. Deorbit burn
2:48 p.m. Dragon splashdown
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Astronauts for the first and second operational SpaceX missions to the International Space Station have already been chosen. Following a successful splashdown, SpaceX will receive certification for human spaceflight for operational missions for Crew-1 targeted for mid-September.

Watch undocking and splashdown

SpaceX is also streaming video coverage of the SpaceX Demo-2 departure.

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