The two astronauts who flew to the ISS on the first commercial space flight in late May will return to Earth on August 2. Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been in space for two months right now.
NASA says that by that date, the astronauts must land in the Atlantic Ocean. The astronauts left the space station the day before, on August 1. Space agency boss Jim Bridenstine says the date may change due to weather conditions.
The return to Earth is the last part of the historical mission. On May 30, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 with the Crew Dragon capsule containing the two astronauts. It was the first time that astronauts launched aboard a commercially built spacecraft. The Crew Dragon capsule is very similar to the Dragon cargo ship, which can also return to Earth and is often used for carrying experiments.
The two astronauts completed a two-month mission on their return. It was not known in advance how long that mission would last. That could not be longer than four months, because that is the maximum duration that the Crew Dragon’s solar panels may be in space. During the mission, Behnken undertook two more spacewalks, replacing the space station’s battery, and two more to follow. If the landing also proves to be a success, SpaceX plans to launch more astronauts, both from NASA and from private persons.