NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, made history at the weekend when they completed the first operational mission in SpaceX’s reusable Crew Dragon spacecraft after an almost six-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS).
This week the crew will talk about their various experiences during the mission, including the ride there and back, and everything in between. Details on how to watch are included at the end of this article.
Prior to the Crew-1 mission, the Crew Dragon had carried astronauts just the once when it took Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the space station on the Demo-2 test mission. The success of that trip paved the way for the Crew-1 launch in November 2020.
Space fans are likely to be interested in hearing about the astronauts’ experiences during the six-and-a-half-hour journey home from the space station on Sunday.
Entering Earth’s atmosphere at high speed places huge stress on a spacecraft, with a special heat shield incorporated into the design to prevent it from burning up.
Talking about his return last summer, Behnken said the Crew Dragon capsule “really came alive” and sounded “like an animal” when it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
“As we descended through the atmosphere, the thrusters were firing almost continuously,” the astronaut said. “It doesn’t sound like a machine, it sounds like an animal coming through the atmosphere with all the puffs that are happening from the thrusters and the atmosphere.”
As part of training to prepare the astronauts for the final stages prior to splashdown, SpaceX play audio clips that were recorded inside the Crew Dragon on its descent during an uncrewed cargo mission to the space station before the first astronaut trip. This helps give astronauts a clearer understanding of what to expect in those noisy and bumpy final stages.
We look forward to discovering if the Crew-1 astronauts’ experiences were similar to Behnken’s.
How to watch
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts will begin taking questions at 3:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 6.
The news conference will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. You can also watch it on the video player embedded at the top of this page.
In the meantime, enjoy some of the highlights of the Crew-1 astronauts’ ISS mission via this collection of photos and footage.