Backyard Observatory

NASA's & SpaceX's Crew Dragon Is Heading Back to Earth. Here's How to Watch.

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are set to undock from the ISS on August 1.

Courtesy of SpaceX

In May, we watched with bated breath as NASA's SpaceX Crew Dragon departed Earth in the first crewed rocket launch from US soil in nearly a decade. And now, following a successful two month stint at the International Space Station, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are prepping for the trip back

The Demo-2 mission, a collaboration between NASA and Elon Musk's SpaceX, marked the first official test flight with actual humans aboard. The Crew Dragon took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 30, following an earlier delay. 

When are the astronauts coming back?

The spacecraft is set to undock from the ISS around 8pm ET on Saturday, August 1, with plans for its official splash down in the Atlantic Ocean the next day on Sunday, August 2, around 3pm, NASA's Johnson Space Center public affairs officer Kyle Herring told news outlets earlier this month.

But much like the initial takeoff, which was delayed as the result of poor weather, the timing of Behnken and Hurley's return hinges on safe weather conditions. Timing is "a bit of a moving target," Herring said. 

Was the mission a success?

The objective behind the mission was to test the aircraft, as it is the first privately produced, commercial vehicle (i.e. not created by NASA) launched in history. To determine its success, experts will have to evaluate the launch, in-orbit, docking, and landing operation, so the full evaluation will have to wait until the mission officially concludes on August 2. 

How to watch the astronauts return to Earth

To watch the multi-day event, you can tune into NASA TV's live stream, which will also air across the both organization and SpaceX's official sites, YouTube channels, and social media. The broadcast is set to begin at 9:10am on Saturday, August 1, for a farewell ceremony at the ISS before later undocking coverage at 5:15pm. Astronauts Behnken and Hurley, along with other crew members, will embark on a 19-hour trip back to Earth, all of which you can watch live.

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.
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