SpaceX astronauts are ready to return to Earth Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON.- After having sealed the hatch of the capsule

SpaceX

, the first astronauts of

U.S

who traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) on a US ship in a decade,

are ready to start the return to Earth despite the risk of a hurricane in


Florida

.

"The Crew Dragon hatch has already been sealed with a view to its departure," NASA tweeted. Once the capsule is depressurized, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will automatically undock from the ISS.

The departure occurs two months after the arrival of the two men aboard the capsule created by the company of eccentric businessman Elon Musk, the US space agency said.


Behnken and Hurley, right, with members of the International Space Station Source: THE NATION

A few hours earlier, both astronauts had said goodbye to the three colleagues they left on the ISS although There was still some uncertainty regarding his trip considering the weather conditions in Florida.

After hitting the Bahamas, Hurricane Isaias, retrograded to a tropical storm, is heading toward the southern United States and could regain strength in the coming hours. This could complicate the landing of SpaceX, scheduled for Sunday at 14:41 (15:41 Argentine time) in the Gulf of Mexico.

A site on the coasts of the city of Pensacola (North Florida) was chosen as a "priority" for the landing, with an alternative in the vicinity of Panama City, also in the Gulf of Mexico, if the sea is very rough or the winds are very strong.

"The most difficult thing was to get into orbit, but the most important thing is to return home"Behnken said a few hours before departure.

The operation is delicate, even if last year the Dragon capsule fulfilled this mission without problems. The atmospheric return will test the resistance of the heat shield. Then large parachutes will slow down the descent into the ocean.

A weightless dinosaur

Addressing her son and her colleague's son, Behnken exhibited a small colored dinosaur, which the boys had given them to accompany them on this "historic mission", and made it fly for a few moments.

"Tremor the apatosaurus returns home with his parents," Behnken told the children, surrounded by his two Russian colleagues, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, and the mission chief, Captain Chris Cassidy.

"We say goodbye to our two friends and colleagues"Cassidy said, declaring himself "sad" and "excited" to see Hurley and Behnken depart from the ISS, stressing the importance of having new means of transporting astronauts.

Behnken and Hurley became the first astronauts to be brought to the ISS,

located 400 km from Earth, by a private company hired by the


POT

.

The mission, whose departure had been delayed for meteorological reasons, was the first of a manned spacecraft launched from US soil. The last one had been in 2011 when the space shuttle program ended.

For the past nine years, American astronauts had traveled exclusively on Russian Soyuz rockets, for a price of about $ 80 million per seat.

If the current mission is certified safe,

The United States will no longer depend on


Russia

to access the space.

For $ 3 billion, agreed since 2011 under a fixed-price contract, SpaceX promised NASA six round trips to the ISS with four astronauts on board.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet announced this week that he will travel aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon on his second mission to the ISS in the spring of 2021.

AFP Agency

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. (tagsToTranslate) SpaceX astronauts are ready to return to Earth – LA NACION

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