Crew Dragon jumps down to wrap up Crew-1 mission

Crew Dragon jumps down to wrap up Crew-1 mission

A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft jumps down in the Gulf of Mexico May 2, sending 4 astronauts from a five-and-a-half-month stay on the International Space Station.

On May 1 the Crew Dragon Spacecraft Resilience undocked from the station at 8:35 p.m. Eastern. This is after leaving the surrounding area of the station and completing a 16-minute deorbit burn.  On May 2 the spacecraft jumps down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast from Panama City, Florida, at 2:57 a.m. Eastern.

Onboard the spacecraft named as follows:
  • NASA astronauts
    • Mike Hopkins
    • Victor Glover
    • Shannon Walker
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut
    • Soichi Noguchi

The splashdown marks the wrap-up of the Crew-1 mission, the first functioning commercial crew operation. That mission began with a Nov. 15 launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9, along with the spacecraft landing with the station the next day.

The jump down was the first evening by an American crewed spacecraft since Apollo 8, which jumped down in the Pacific Ocean. This is after its flight across the moon in December 1968. That was the just other U.S. crewed operation in order to land in the ocean in the evening.

The choice to jump down at night was led by the weather conditions. NASA reschedules planned splashdowns through the day April 28 and May 1. This is due to the winds and sea conditions at its docking zones off the Florida coast. However, climate conditions for this docking were standard, with surges of about 30 cms and winds of five km per hour. This is well inside the restrictions for a secure landing.

Steve Stich is NASA’s commercial crew program manager and mentions the following on NASA TV shortly earlier the Crew Dragon undocked from the station:
  • “We are placing the crew and the spacecraft down in very gentle winds and waves. That is best for the crew and the spacecraft.”
  • “Recovery teams receive experience with the latest cargo Dragon mission, CRS-21.”
  • “That spacecraft is relatable to the Crew Dragon spacecraft and we are prepared for that opportunity.”
  • “When we measure all possibilities, it looks like it’s the best time that we are home.”
One more Crew Dragon spacecraft, Endeavour, launches on April 23 on the Crew-2 operation, landing at the station the next day. It gave to the station:
  • NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur
  • European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet
  • JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

They will stay on the station around late October when the Crew-3 operation will commence on another Crew Dragon.

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