NASA and SpaceX are preparing for the homecoming of Demo-2 Commercial Crew astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
The veteran test pilots launched inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket at the Cape on May 30. It was a landmark mission—the first crewed mission of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
KPRC 2 Space Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon spoke with the crew, including Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy, from space at the International Space Station.
Rose-Ann Aragon: Station, this is KPRC-TV. How do you hear me?
Chris Cassidy: “Welcome aboard the International Space Station. We hear you loud and clear!”
Aragon: Thank you so much. This is Rose-Ann Aragon with KPRC. Thank you so much for your time. It’s great to speak with you all. We’ve been covering your mission from here in Space City, and we want to know, how are you guys doing up there? How is it going up there at the Space Station?
Cassidy: We’re doing great! Particularly, for me, Chris, I had a couple of months by myself. It was just such a joy to watch these two guys launch a handful of weeks ago and they know that that rocket ship was pointed directly at us for rendezvous the next day.
That was a tremendous excitement onboard. I know it was on Earth, but we onboard felt the same, and then we’ve had just a fantastic month or six weeks to work together to accomplish Space Station missions in parallel with some objectives still continuing with the test flight of the Dragon. But it’s kind of sad, bittersweet to see it all come to an end for me because I’ll close the hatch and watch theses guys head home, but we’re doing fantastic.
Thanks for asking.
Aragon: Thank you so much, Chris. I talked to your brother. I know he cares about you very much. Bob and Doug, can you talk to us about the Dragon. How is the Dragon doing?
Doug Hurley: Well so far, Dragon has been great. It’s performed exactly as expected and in a lot of cases, better than expected. We’ve done some onboard testing to see how it will be when more people are in the vehicle, which comes up on the next flight—Crew 1—in a few months.
And, we’ve also done some major evaluations on emergency hardware. How it would work? If we were having communications with Space Station, in an emergency situation, where we are sealed up in our vehicles and some other work. We’ve done testing to make sure everything is performing that way we expect it to perform while it’s on-orbit because the next mission for those Crew 1 folks will be in the neighborhood of six months rather than a couple of months like our mission.
So, just trying to go through all those things to make sure all the testing is done and it works the way it’s supposed to and then obviously undock and departure and entry and splashdown next week.
Aragon: Thank you so much. Bob, can you tell us about your training? Do you all believe that the training you received at the Johnson Space Center has prepared you to execute this mission well?
Bob Behnken: I think that the training that Doug and I had in preparation for this mission really set us up for success. As you might know, our mission was originally planned to be a short mission, maybe staying at the station a week or weeks. As we finish the check out of the Dragon capsule, and the mission was extended as we’ve had launch delays and really needed to do our part best to take care of Space Station.
A Japanese cargo vehicle had brought some hardware up that we needed to have installed during spacewalks and so we took the opportunity to get a little bit more training to make sure that both Doug and I were ready to support those activities and that kind of executive course polished us off to be able to extend our mission…really paid, I think, big dividends.
In terms of getting the work that we were able to accomplish done expeditiously and successfully. So, I think the training that we went through was excellent, and it really set us up for success. I think, hopefully, when we head back home, the training that we got from the Hawthorne team has us set up for success for the splashdown and coming home.
I think probably Doug and I’s biggest worry coming home is the health of Houston and the help of the people back at home, our families, and hopefully, everybody is taking seriously the recommendations for mask and recommendations for social distancing, so that we come home to a safe place. I think that’s probably our biggest concern…not our training or the performance of the vehicle.
Aragon: What is going to be like to be able to come home after a mission like this one—a historic first-time for the Commercial Crew Program? What’s that going to be like to see your sons again?
Hurley: Well, I mean, it’s going to be incredible. Obviously, to see our families again and all our co-workers, as Bob said, from a distance. Ideally, to see all the people whether it be at SpaceX or at NASA that contributed to this mission over the last several years.
I mean it’s a countless number of people being behind the scenes that have made this possible. So, to just share with those folks is very much what we’re looking forward to other than to obviously see our sons and our wives who we miss incredibly. But they completely understand.
In essence, they both do the same things we do. So just looking forward to it—successful completion of the mission and to share it with everybody who helped along the way.
Aragon: Thank you so much for your time. It’s great to hear from you all. Please have a safe journey back home.
Hurley: Thank you, Rose-Ann.