NASA, SpaceX Officials Meet to Prepare for Return of Astronauts

The International Space Station’s two newest crew members, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, are pictured having just entered the orbiting lab shortly after arriving aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX officials are meeting remotely via teleconference today to review plans and preparations for the return of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft after approximately two months at the International Space Station.

The spacecraft’s splashdown will be the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station.

Today’s Return Flight Readiness Review is led by Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations. Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich and International Space Station Program Manager Joel Montalbano will follow, with several officials from NASA and SpaceX providing input from their organizations. Lueders will conduct a final readiness poll at the conclusion at the review.

A Return Flight Readiness Review briefing will follow on NASA TV and the agency’s website from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Participants are:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Benji Reed, director, crew mission management, SpaceX

The test flight also is helping NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, which would occur following NASA certification.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.