splashdown!

Here's how to watch the historic NASA/SpaceX return back to Earth

Here's how to watch the historic NASA/SpaceX return back to Earth

Behnken Hurley NASA astronauts
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are coming home.  Photo courtesy of NASA

On May 30, the world watched a historic — and uplifting — moment in space travel, as NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley blasted off from Earth in a commercial craft created by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The NASA/SpaceX Dragon Endeavour flight was the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The SpaceX Demo-2 launch was a success: the duo orbited Earth and eventually boarded the International Space Station; Behnken and Hurley have been stationed there since.

Now, space fans can watch the return of the NASA/SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which is scheduled for 1:42 pm CST on Sunday, August 2. The splashdown represents the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station, according to NASA. The historic return signifies the close of a mission designed to test SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, including launch, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.

NASA will broadcast the splashdown coverage on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning early morning on August. 1, with coverage lasting through splashdown on August 2. 

Those looking to make a day trip out of it can travel to the Space Center Houston (the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center), where the splashdown will be livestreamed in a socially distanced event. Visitors can engage in interactive, pop-up science labs to learn about the splashdown process, the specially crafted spacesuits, and more.

Guests can also walk underneath a flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is the only Falcon 9 on public display outside of SpaceX’s headquarters, and is the same type of rocket used in the Demo-2 mission.

Afterward, visitors can also take a tour of the Independence Plaza exhibit and walk inside a shuttle replica mounted on top of the historic shuttle carrier aircraft NASA 905.  A myriad of other experiences await and safety protocols will be in place.