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SpaceX and Nasa Crew Dragon astronauts on their way back to Earth from International Space Station



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Nasa astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are on their way back to Earth after the SpaceX’s astronaut carrier the Crew Dragon successfully undocked from the International Space Station.

The pair will be making the first splashdown return from space in 45 years on Sunday evening (UK time), although there is the potential threat of Hurricane Isaias, which is edging closer to their landing destination on the south Florida coast.

They are due to land at 2.48pm Florida time – 7.48pm UK time.

Their departure from the International Space Station was announced by SpaceX, which tweeted: “Separation confirmed. Dragon performing four departure burns to move away from the Space Station.

Nasa then advised the Crew Dragon was “on a safe trajectory” back to Earth.

The astronauts made history on May 30 when they became the first people to launch into low-Earth orbit on a commercial spacecraft that was built by SpaceX.

Their mission, named Demo-2, also marked the first time Nasa launched astronauts from US soil in nine years.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, left, before it undocked from the International Space Station (Nasa via AP)

The last time astronauts made an ocean landing was on July 1975 during an Apollo mission.

Since then, spacemen have always landed on terra firma, using Nasa’s Space Shuttle or the Russian space agency’s Soyuz capsules.

If all goes to plan, the splashdown will usher in a new era for Nasa, which will have at least one commercial spacecraft ready to launch astronauts into space from US soil.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule separates from the International Space Station (Nasa via AP)

On entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the Crew Dragon will face scorching temperatures of around 1,900C as it deploys parachutes to slow its speed down to around 119 miles per hour, before landing on the ocean.

The splashdown is the final step in the mission designed to test SpaceX’s human spaceflight system – including launch, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch – in pictures

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SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

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SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

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The astronauts shortly after take-off

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In this still image taken from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage separates from the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule after launch

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Mike Pence and President Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence at Kennedy

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People watch the launch

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon crew capsule onboard, is illuminated on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue

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The countdown clock

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Astronauts Bob Behnken (R) and Doug Hurley walk out of the Operations and Checkout Building on their way to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

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Behnken gives the thumbs up

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Bob Behnken, right, and Doug Hurley say goodbye to family members

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Douglas Hurley’s wife Karen Nyberg and their son say goodbye

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Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Image

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Donald Trump on his way to Kennedy Space Center

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Bob Behnken, right, and Doug Hurley pose on Launch Complex 39A

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Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Image

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SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

Getty Images

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SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Crew Dragon capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida

AP

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Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Image

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AP

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REUTERS

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AP

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The astronauts shortly after take-off

AFP via Getty Images

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NASA TV/AFP via Getty Images

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In this still image taken from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage separates from the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule after launch

AFP via Getty Images

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Mike Pence and President Donald Trump

REUTERS

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President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence at Kennedy

AP

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AFP via Getty Images

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AFP via Getty Images

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People watch the launch

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NASA TV/AFP via Getty Images

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NASA TV/AFP via Getty Images

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REUTERS

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon crew capsule onboard, is illuminated on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue

AP

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The countdown clock

Getty Images

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Astronauts Bob Behnken (R) and Doug Hurley walk out of the Operations and Checkout Building on their way to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

Getty Images

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AP

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Behnken gives the thumbs up

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Bob Behnken, right, and Doug Hurley say goodbye to family members

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AFP via Getty Images

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Douglas Hurley’s wife Karen Nyberg and their son say goodbye

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Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Image

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Donald Trump on his way to Kennedy Space Center

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Bob Behnken, right, and Doug Hurley pose on Launch Complex 39A

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Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Image

AP contributed to this article

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Nasa

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SpaceX

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Crew Dragon

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Bob Behnken

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Doug Hurley

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