Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are returning to Earth on Sunday after their historic mission for SpaceX and NASA. The event will be livestreamed on YouTube and other social media platforms, in addition to conventional news coverage. There are a few ways to watch.
The first crewed collaborative mission between NASA and SpaceX will conclude on Sunday when the Dragon Endeavor spacecraft splashes into the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to land at 2:48 p.m. ET just off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, according to a report by TV Line. NASA's official YouTube channel began a livestream hours ahead of time for those that want to watch the mission play out in meticulous detail. TV coverage of the landing will begin at 1 p.m. ET on both Discovery and the Science Channel.
The livestream can also be viewed on Periscope via the official Space X Twitter accounts, and on the official NASA account as well. Major news networks are expected to check in on the story periodically throughout the afternoon as well.
Discovery and the Science Channel are dedicating three full hours to the Dragon Endeavor's landing, as it represents such a massive milestone for space travel. The craft undocked from the International Space Station at 7:35 p.m. ET on Saturday night and began its descent back to the Earth. It has been there for a total of 63 days, completing 1,024 orbits around the planet.
This splashdown will be the first time U.S. astronauts land at sea since 1975. The Demo-2 mission is the first time a private company has been authorized to send U.S. astronauts into space and may signify the beginning of commercial space travel in human history.
The Dragon Endeavor will reportedly begin a six-minute departure phasing burn at 1:48 p.m. ET on Saturday. It will align with the proper orbital path to land in the correct spot, and will then take an hour to pass through the atmosphere and back onto solid ground.0comments
The Demo-2 mission launched on May 30 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first human-crewed space mission by the U.S. since NASA's space shuttle program was retired in 2011. Since then, NASA has paid other countries — particularly Russia — to rent seats on their spacecraft to get to and from the International Space Station.
In the meantime, NASA offered private companies contracts to design and manufacture new spacecrafts for this purpose, hoping that the competition would foster innovation. SpaceX was just one contestant in the field, but it was the first to reach this milestone. It is estimated that SpaceX's craft will save NASA millions of dollars if it can be re-used reliably.