NASA is currently planning to return astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to Earth on board SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft in about two weeks, the space agency told CNBC on Friday.
The spacecraft, which the astronauts named Endeavour, is scheduled to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 2 at about 3 p.m. ET, according to NASA's Johnson Space Center public affairs officer Kyle Herring.
Herring noted that the departure time from the International Space Station "is a bit of a moving target," but said in an email that the spacecraft is scheduled to un-dock at about 8 p.m. ET on Aug. 1. NASA will look more closely at the weather forecasts for where the spacecraft might splash down after the astronauts perform a spacewalk next week. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine also confirmed those dates.
Splashdown and recovery would mark the conclusion of NASA and SpaceX's Demo-2 mission, which launched successfully on a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida on May 30. The mission is the first time that Elon Musk's space company has launched people with its spacecraft.
As Demo-2 was considered a test flight, the spacecraft carried only two astronauts on board. For Crew-1, which NASA considers to be the first operational SpaceX mission, the Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry four people.
NASA intends to thoroughly review the data from the Demo-2 mission before it moves forward with Crew-1, a process it expects will take about six weeks. That would see Crew-1 launch in about mid-September. On Tuesday, the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch Crew-1 arrived at SpaceX's processing facility in Florida, to undergo final preparations for the mission.
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