"And we won't leave the space station without some good landing opportunities in front of us, good splashdown weather in front of us".
"We're watching those closely, mostly to maintain awareness and see the trends and understand what the timeline would be if our recovery out of the water, for example, was delayed a little bit", he said. In any case, Tropical Storm Isaias could drive the space explorers to remain in a circle some time longer.
This will be SpaceX's first splashdown with astronauts on board, ending a two-month test flight that began May 30 at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre the first launch of a crew from the United States in almost a decade.
Undocking remains scheduled for approximately 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 1, and splashdown at 2:42 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
The success of their trip in the SpaceX vehicle has been a major milestone for commercial space travel, and a vindication of NASA's long-term plan to rely on space taxis for routine flights to and from the orbiting outpost-while the government agency focuses on developing vehicles for a return to the moon.
The re-entry will mark the end of SpaceX's human spaceflight demonstration mission.
Prior to Behnken and Hurley's launch May 30, NASA had been unable to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil since the agency's space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying Hurley and Behnken lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 and arrived at the space station the following day.
Preparations are proceeding as planned, but if the weekend departure is called off due to the weather, NASA and SpaceX will reschedule the undocking attempt to Monday, Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said Thursday in a news briefing. The seven potential splashdown locations are off a mix of both eastern and western Florida coastal communities, namely Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona and Jacksonville.
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 Dragon capsule will be in the water for about an hour before it's hauled by crane onto a SpaceX recovery ship. The astronauts will then undergo medical checks before boarding a NASA plane back to Houston. "With this test flight, NASA and the US aerospace industry are marking the first successful launch of a crew to the space station on a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft, and a safe return to Earth for that spacecraft and crew". This extension allowed Behnken to participate in four spacewalks in recent weeks, swapping out battery packs on the exterior of the orbiting laboratory.