In a process that kicked off on Saturday, Aug. 1, Behnken and Hurley made preparations for their return trip aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that carried them to the International Space Station on May 30. For the pas nine years, NASA has relied on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to ferry US and partner agency astronauts to and from the station at some $80 million per seat.
Tom Cruise wants to go up in this with his director this space capsule, the Crew Dragon, and film a movie at the International Space Station.
They are aiming to land their capsule by parachute in the Gulf of Mexico near Pensacola in west Florida.
The original landing site was in the Atlantic Ocean near Kennedy Space Center, but splashdown would have occurred around the time Tropical Storm Isaias was due to arrive along central Florida's east coast.
NASA and SpaceX will select primary and secondary splashdown and recovery locations two days prior to the return date of Aug 2 from the seven possibilities.
A successful mission would demonstrate that the United States once again has the capacity to send its astronauts to space and bring them back.
In recent years, Space X has been "proving the awesomeness of reuse and preflight, the importance of it", Benji Reed, Space X's director of crew mission management.
As soon as the capsule hit the water, the recovery crews went to work on retrieving the parachutes, and saving the capsule so they can hoist it out of the water and extract the crew.
The astronauts' Dragon capsule launched to the space station at the end of May on a Falcon 9 rocket, also supplied by SpaceX. That begins a harrowing journey right down to the floor, because the Crew Dragon experiences excessive temperatures reaching as much as three, 500 levels Fahrenheit and slows down from 17,500 miles per hour.
The crewed mission is a critical test for SpaceX and NASA under the agency's Commercial Crew program - an effort to rely on private companies to launch astronauts to the International Space Station, ending a almost decade-long reliance on the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
The ocean landings come after a 45-year splashdown hiatus and hark back to Nasa's Apollo programme, which saw astronauts plop into the Pacific Ocean to be retrieved by ships.
Crew members for that mission are to be NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. At round 1:44PM ET on Sunday, SpaceX will jettison an enormous chunk of the Crew Dragon forward of the touchdown: the capsule's trunk. The Stars and Stripes also flew on the pretty initial shuttle mission in 1981.