The two-man SpaceX Crew Dragon will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, August 2, 2020, completing its two-month demo mission to the International Space Station and back. The crew is expected to splash down at 18:48 UTC (2:48 p.m. ET; translate UTC to your time), with the target landing area the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. It’ll be the first splashdown in 45 years, following the joint U.S.-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. NASA TV is hosting a livestream of the return of astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from their 63 days in space (about 1,024 orbits around Earth). When we clicked in to NASA TV this morning, they were already discussing the splashdown. Official coverage of the event on NASA TV began at about 11:25 UTC (7:25 a.m. ET).
Watch the splashdown on the video above, or go to NASA TV.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., trading as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. SpaceX has developed several launch vehicles, the Starlink satellite constellation, and the Dragon spacecraft.
SpaceX’s achievements include the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach orbit (Falcon 1 in 2008), the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft (Dragon in 2010), the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station (Dragon in 2012), the first propulsive landing for an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2015), the first reuse of an orbital rocket (Falcon 9 in 2017), the first private company to launch an object into orbit around the Sun (Falcon Heavy’s payload of a Tesla Roadster in 2018), and the first private company to send astronauts to the International Space Station (Dragon 2 in 2020). SpaceX has flown 20 cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) under a partnership with NASA, as well as an uncrewed demonstration flight of the human-rated Dragon 2 spacecraft (Crew Demo-1) on March 2, 2019, and the first crewed Dragon 2 flight on May 30, 2020.In December 2015, a Falcon 9 accomplished a propulsive vertical landing. This was the first such achievement by a rocket for orbital spaceflight. In April 2016, with the launch of CRS-8, SpaceX successfully vertically landed the first stage on an ocean drone ship landing platform. In May 2016, in another first, SpaceX again landed the first stage, but during a significantly more energetic geostationary transfer orbit mission. In March 2017, SpaceX became the first to successfully re-launch and land the first stage of an orbital rocket. In January 2020, with the third launch of the Starlink project, SpaceX became the largest commercial satellite constellation operator in the world.In September 2016, Musk unveiled the Interplanetary Transport System—subsequently renamed Starship—a privately funded launch system to develop spaceflight technology for use in crewed interplanetary spaceflight. In 2017, Musk unveiled an updated configuration of the system which is intended to handle interplanetary missions plus become the primary SpaceX orbital vehicle after the early 2020s, as SpaceX has announced it intends to eventually replace its existing Falcon 9 launch vehicles and Dragon space capsule fleet with Starship, even in the Earth-orbit satellite delivery market. Starship is planned to be fully reusable and will be the largest rocket ever on its debut, scheduled for the early 2020s.
How to watch SpaceX Crew Dragon splashdown today | EarthSky.org
A dragon is a large, serpentine legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures around the world. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably by region, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence.
The earliest attested reports of draconic creatures resemble giant snakes. Draconic creatures are first described in the mythologies of the ancient Near East and appear in ancient Mesopotamian art and literature. Stories about storm-gods slaying giant serpents occur throughout nearly all Indo-European and Near Eastern mythologies. Famous prototypical draconic creatures include the mušḫuššu of ancient Mesopotamia; Apep in Egyptian mythology; Vṛtra in the Rigveda; the Leviathan in the Hebrew Bible; Grand’Goule in the Poitou region in France, Python, Ladon, Wyvern, and the Lernaean Hydra in Greek mythology; Jörmungandr, Níðhöggr, and Fafnir in Norse mythology; and the dragon from Beowulf.
The popular western image of a dragon is based on a conflation of earlier dragons from different traditions, and of inaccurate scribal drawings of snakes. In western cultures, dragons are portrayed as monsters to be tamed or overcome, usually by saints or culture heroes, as in the popular legend of Saint George and the Dragon. They are often said to have ravenous appetites and to live in caves, where they hoard treasure. These dragons appear frequently in western fantasy literature, including The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.
The word “dragon” has also come to be applied to the Chinese lung (traditional 龍, simplified 龙, Pinyin long), which are associated with good fortune and are thought to have power over rain. Dragons and their associations with rain are the source of the Chinese customs of dragon dancing and dragon boat racing. Many East Asian deities and demigods have dragons as their personal mounts or companions. Dragons were also identified with the Emperor of China, who, during later Chinese imperial history, was the only one permitted to have dragons on his house, clothing, or personal articles.
Commonalities between dragons’ traits are often a hybridization of avian, feline, and reptilian features, and may include: snakelike features, reptilian scaly skin, four legs with three or four toes on each, spinal nodes running down the back, a tail, and a serrated jaw with rows of teeth. Several modern scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern dragon imagery. This also fits with the ancient words ‘Draco’ and ‘Drakon’, meaning ‘large serpent’ or ‘sea serpent.’
The crew had been originally intended to splash down in the Atlantic, but the location was changed due to Hurricane Isaias’ pending arrival on the east coast of Florida.
Behnken and Hurley have been in space since May 30, when they launched at the helm of the first crewed U.S. mission to orbit on a private spacecraft, part of a Space X-NASA partnership.
How to watch SpaceX Crew Dragon splashdown today | EarthSky.org
Bottom line: How to watch SpaceX Crew Dragon splashdown on Sunday, August 2, 2020.
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