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SpaceX set to bring NASA astronauts home from historic mission (weather permitting)

July 31, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

In this June 26, 2020 photo made available by NASA, spacewalkers Bob Behnken, foreground left, and Chris Cassidy, foreground right, are suited up with assistance from Expedition 63 Flight Engineers Doug Hurley, center left, and Ivan Vagner in the International Space Station. On Wednesday, July 29, 2020, SpaceX and NASA cleared the Dragon crew capsule to depart the International Space Station and head home after a two-month flight. (NASA via AP)

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, the first-ever astronauts to travel into orbit aboard a commercially developed spacecraft, are aiming to return to Earth this weekend — if an incoming hurricane doesn't delay those plans.

The men have been on board the International Space Station for two months, after launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

On Saturday, Hurley and Behnken are scheduled to board their Crew Dragon spacecraft, nicknamed Endeavour, and leave the space station around 7:30 pm ET to begin their 19-hour journey home.

Though SpaceX previously launched a Crew Dragon on an uncrewed demonstration mission, Hurley and Behnken's mission is still considered a test.

Both men are veteran NASA astronauts and test pilots specifically trained to respond to any technical issues that may arise on the new vehicle, and NASA won't officially certify Crew Dragon as a human-rated spacecraft until it makes a safe return.

The astronauts will experience much higher G-forces on the Crew Dragon, Hurley said.

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