Tropical storm may delay 1st SpaceX crew’s return to Earth

July 29, 2020 GMT
This July 1, 2020 photo made available by NASA shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon, right, docked to the International Space station, during a spacewalk conducted by astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy. 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)
This July 1, 2020 photo made available by NASA shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon, right, docked to the International Space station, during a spacewalk conducted by astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy. 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)
This July 1, 2020 photo made available by NASA shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon, right, docked to the International Space station, during a spacewalk conducted by astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy. 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)
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This July 1, 2020 photo made available by NASA shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon, right, docked to the International Space station, during a spacewalk conducted by astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy. 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)
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This July 1, 2020 photo made available by NASA shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon, right, docked to the International Space station, during a spacewalk conducted by astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy. 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)

CAPE CANAVERAL, la. (AP) 1 ; Tropical weather barreling toward lorida co ld delay this weekend 17;s planned ret rn of the first SpaceX crew.

On Wednesday, SpaceX and NASA cleared the Dragon crew caps le to depart the International Space Station and head home after a two-month flight.

Beca se NASA test pilots Do g H rley and Bob Behnken will aim for the Atlantic or G lf of Mexico j st off lorida’s coast, the wind and waves m st be relatively calm. It wo ld be the first astrona t splashdown in 45 years

Managers are targeting a S nday splashdown, right aro nd the time ro gh weather is expected to hit lorida. The weather system was in the eastern Caribbean on Wednesday and was expected to develop into a tropical storm

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NASA’s commercial crew program manager, Steve Stich, said flight controllers will closely monitor the weather and, if necessary, keep the astrona ts at the space station ntil conditions improve.

;Yo have to remember this is a test flight, 1; NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said from Kennedy Space Center. “If the weather isn 17;t good or the sea states aren 17;t good, we 17;re going to take o r time bringing Bob and Do g home. O r No. 1 highest priority is their safety. 1;

Elon M sk’s SpaceX company made history on May 3 when la nching H rley and Behnken. It marked the first la nch of NASA astrona ts from the U.S. in nearly a decade and also the first time a private company sent people into orbit. SpaceX is already preparing to la nch a second crew to the space station at the end of September.

NASA wants six weeks between the splashdown and the la nch of the next Dragon crew, for caps le inspections and reviews.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives s pport from the Howard H ghes Medical Instit te 17;s Department of Science Ed cation. The AP is solely responsible for all content.