Live Thread: SpaceX Crew-2 is returning home today, here is how to keep track of them [Update: Coverage of splashdown has ended]

spacex crew-2 on iss

SpaceX and NASA are planning to undock Crew-2 and their Crew Dragon Endeavour and return to Earth today. This will conclude a six-month stay on the International Space Station for the four astronauts.

ISS Departure: Monday, November 8, 2:05 p.m. EST

Splashdown: Monday, November 8, 10:33 p.m. EST

Those of you who have been following the launch of SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission will realize that this departure is happening before Crew-3’s launch. This is due to the almost two-week delay in launch, and NASA wants to get Crew-2 back home while weather conditions allow it.

This timeline of events is called an “indirect handoff” and comes with the downside of not allowing crews to exchange information and advice in person. However, the three-person crew from MS-18 and MS-19 will still greet them when Crew-3 arrives. This is also not an early return, as the astronauts of Crew-2 have been on the station for over six months. In addition, the 210-day limit that Dragon is designed for is approaching, and NASA rather not keep Crew-2 and its Dragon in space longer than it has to.

SpaceX’s Crew-2 depart from the ISS

Today SpaceX’s Crew-2 will suit up and get in their Dragon spacecraft for their return home. Unlike launch, this will be a relatively quick event. Taking just under 10 hours between hatch close to splashdown. Below are the times of each event and when its coverage begins:

  • Hatch close: 12:40 p.m. EST, coverage begins at 11:45 a.m. EST
  • Undocking: 2:05 p.m. EST, coverage begins at 1:45 p.m. EST (NASA will provide continuous coverage from undocking until splashdown)
  • Splashdown: 10:33 p.m. EST

Coverage of the return of Crew-2 can be found wherever NASA TV is streamed, on their website, YouTube, and their social media channels. Your cable provider may also have the NASA TV channel available. You can also follow along with events in our live updates blog below.

SpaceX will also be providing the same coverage of Crew-2’s return on their YouTube channel, their hatch closing stream is currently unlisted but here is the link. Finally, check out Space Explored coverage of the departure on our 24/7 ISS stream.

Where will SpaceX’s splashdown at?

SpaceX’s Crew-2 will splashdown off the coast of Pensacola in the Gulf of Mexico. Out of the three crewed Dragons to have returned space two out of the three have landed in the gulf. This is because of better recovery conditions and also allows recovery crews in the Atlantic to focus on Crew-3’s launch.

Live updates on the return of SpaceX’s Crew-2

SpaceX Crew-2 undocking and splashdown

Reentry and splashdown

  • That will conclude tonights coverage of Crew-2’s return from the ISS.
  • And finally Mission Specialist Thomas Pesquet is out of Dragon.
  • Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide is next to be out.
  • Commander Shane Kimbrough has now been removed from Endeavour.
  • Pilot Megan McArthur is out of the capsule.
  • Endeavour’s side hatch has been opened for the first time in about 199 days.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-08-at-10.12.40-PM.mov
  • Endeavour with its crew have been moved in closer to the center of the GO Navigator’s deck.
  • Dragon Endeavour has been lifted up onto GO Navigator’s “Dragon Nest.”
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-08-at-10.03.12-PM.mov
  • GO Navigator has gotten much closer, SpaceX stated about five minutes from lift.
  • Looks like Crew-2 members are using the satellite phone built into the Dragon capsule.
  • SpaceX’s GO Navigator recovery ship is begining to backup to the spacecraft.
  • Hypergolic fuel and ordinace checking is complete and nominal. SpaceX is still working on rigging the capsule for lifting out of the water.
  • Recovery crews are GO for approaching the Dragon.
  • SpaceX’s fast boats are on their way to meat up with Dragon Endeavour and starting checking it is ready to be captured by GO Navigator.
  • Splashdown confirmed!
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-08-at-9.32.58-PM.mov
  • One main took at little longer to deploy but it is designed to only use three.
  • “Four healthy mains,” means we have all four main parachutes have deplaoyed.
  • Drogue chute deploy.
  • SpaceX has regained communications with Crew-2.
  • First views of Crew-2 during reentry from NASA’s WB-57 aircraft.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-08-at-9.27.17-PM.mov
  • During reentry Crew-2 will start at about 17,500 mph and will slow down to about 350 mph before the parachutes bring them to a gentle 15 mph before splashdown.
  • We are now in the expected seven minute or so communication black out.
  • SpaceX teams are begining seeing drag on Endeavour, meaning Crew-2 is begin their reentry of the atmosphrere.

Deorbit burn

  • The SpaceX Core let Dragon Endeavour know they are approaching a communication black out due to the heating of reentry, this is expected.
  • SpaceX is tracking no issues for reentry.
  • Nose cone has closed. Dragon Endeavour is positioning its heat shield to face forward and take the bulk of the heat from reentry.
  • Deorbit burn is complete and looks good. SpaceX has commanded Endeavour’s nose cone to close.
  • We are about six minutes away from finishing the deorbit burn. Sounds like the buring is proceeding as plan.
What to expect during the next 40+ minutes leading up to splashdown. Credit: ESA
  • The Dragon has stopped reposition and is ready to start the burn.
  • The spacecraft is now positioning its front thrusters to point forward for its 16 minute deorbit burn.
  • Dragon Endauvour has succsfully jettisoned its trunk.
  • NASA’s WB-57 aircraft was confirmed to be in the air for tonight’s return. This aircraft will give us views of Dragon Endeavour during reentry and through splashdown. They will also use the data capture by its sensors to learn more about what happens when spacecrafts reenter the atmosphere.
  • Crew-2 is getting ready to start burning its forward thrusters to lower its orbit to begin reentry.
  • The helicopters carrying the recovery team are headed out to land on SpaceX’s GO Navigator which is suporting tonights recovery efforts.
  • Leak checks are all good to go for the rest of the flight.
  • SpaceX is performing a leak check on Crew-3’s flightsuits.
  • Crew-3 commander Shane Kimbrough has radioed down that they are fully dressed in their flightsuits.
  • Crew-3 has begun to put their flightsuits on again as we near deorbit.

Departure

  • SpaceX’s “Core,” or their version of a CAPCOM, is discussing repacking of a bag in the cargo section of Dragon.
  • “Nominal burn” was called out after the completion of the burn.
  • The Dragon will soon start its Departure Burn 2, moving further away from the ISS.
  • Dragon Endeavour has left the approach ellipoid, removing NASA Houston and the ISS from the loop used for commuication.
  • Crew-2 has finished their first departure burn.

ISS Fly Around

  • The crew have finished their ISS fly around and are now starting their departure burn from the station.
  • Crew-2 is reaching the end of its ISS fly around.
  • View of Dragon Endaevour as it continues to fly around the station.
  • Crew-2 is currently “underneath” the space station.
  • Currently we are not getting any views from Dragon due to ground station coverage.
  • Crew-2 is still working through it’s fly around of the station, about 1/8 of the way through it.
  • The ISS crew have been given the GO to stop monitoring the departure and fly around.
  • Dragon is GO for fly around once they reach “Hold 1.”
  • View of SpaceX’s Dragon Endaevour leaving the space station.
  • “MS1,” Thomas Pesquet out of his seat taking photos of the ISS during its fly around.
  • Just heard the call out that “MS1” (mission specialist 1) is out of their seat to suppot the fly around.
  • Next Dragon will begin their “Fly Around” of the space station where they get the opportunity to photograph the ISS.

Undocking

  • Dragon Endeavour is now at a holding area away from the station where they are holding for crew to remove their flight suits.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-08-at-1.06.51-PM.mov
  • Confirmation of seperation from the station.
  • The first set of hooks have been retacted.
  • This command unhooks 12 hooks that keep Dragon “hard mated” to the station.
  • Undock sequence has been commanded to Dragon.
  • Dragon is GO for undocking.
  • Live coverage has returned for the undocking of SpcaeX’s Crew-2 spacecraft from the ISS.
View of Crew-2’s Dragon docked with the ISS.

SpaceX Crew-2 hatch closing

  • If you missed the coverage, you can rewatch the stream here.
  • SpaceX and NASA will be ending their coverage as the area between the station and Dragon are sealed off and depressurized. Coverage will return for undocking at 1:45 p.m. EST.
  • Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet have begun putting their flight suits on.
  • SpaceX’s Dragon hatch has been closed.
  • Teams are looking into an issue with “Screen Alpha” (the left hand-side screen in the image below). They have turned the screen off and on again, but it might not have solved the issue. It is unknown what the problem is.
  • This departure will feature a “fly around,” this is when the Dragon spacecraft will loop around the space station. “Fly arounds” offers an opportunity to get amazing images of the ISS for engineering purposes.
  • Astronauts have confirmed the Dragon’s cabin is configured for flight.
Current view of inside Crew-2’s Dragon spacecraft with Kimbrough and McArthur in their seats and wearing their flight suits.
  • Crew-2’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur have begun com-checks with SpaceX.
  • Two astronauts have already egressed (enter the spacecraft) into Dragon.
  • Teams have already pulled “GO” for today’s departure to land off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

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