Weather looks good for SpaceX Crew Dragon return, despite hurricane Isaias

NASA and SpaceX plan to go ahead with the return mission for the brand new Crew Dragon capsule from the International Space Station on Saturday, August 1, although a hurricane off the Florida coast could necessitate a delay to the mission if it moves closer to the landing sites.

Earlier this week, there had been concerns that a tropical cyclone developing in the Caribbean could necessitate a delay of the mission. The issue is that high winds can cause problems during splashdown procedures, so the NASA team require wind speeds of less than 15 feet per second, or 10 miles an hour, to give the go-ahead for the departure of the Crew Dragon from the space station.

However, the latest briefing from the Air Force 45th Weather Squadron indicated that the mission was safe to go ahead. NASA says that it is continuing to monitor Hurricane Isaias, which is moving close to the Florida coast, and it will evaluate whether the weather will affect the chosen landing sites off the Florida coast. The agency will make a final decision about whether the mission should go ahead nearer to the planned undocking time.

“Conditions remain ‘Go’ at several of the needed target locations for splashdown and recovery off the Florida coast on Sunday aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon ‘Endeavour’ spacecraft,” NASA wrote in a blog post. “NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on a primary splashdown target approximately 6 hours before undocking Saturday.”

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley (right) participate in a test of the Crew Dragon capsule
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley (right) participate in a test of the Crew Dragon capsule on Monday, March 20, 2020, at a SpaceX processing facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Demo-2 mission was successfully launched on Saturday, May 30, 2020. NASA

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed on Twitter that the mission looked good to go ahead as scheduled. “Teams from @NASA and @SpaceX remain GO with plans to bring @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken home to Earth on Sunday afternoon,” he wrote. “We will continue to monitor weather before undocking Saturday night.”

SpaceX, NASA’s commercial partner which designed and built the Crew Dragon craft, also confirmed that plans for the mission were going ahead, with the same time and date of 7:34 p.m. ET on August 1 planned for undocking of the craft from the International Space Station.

If you want to watch the undocking and splashdown, we’ve got all the details on how to watch the events live.

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