NASA sets a date for SpaceX Dragon's next historic trip

NASA has provided a tentative date for its upcoming milestone mission, one that will involve sending a SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule to pick up astronauts from the International Space Station. The two astronauts will return to Earth in this crew capsule, which is already docked at the ISS, marking the first time this spacecraft will bring humans back to Earth from space.

The Crew Dragon return flight will include NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Col. Doug Hurley, according to a recent tweet from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Though it's not yet possible to say exactly when the two will take off for Earth, Bridenstine says the space agency is currently anticipating a departure on August 1.

SpaceX successfully launched the Crew Dragon Endeavour to the ISS with humans on board in late May; soon, it will demonstrate its ability to bring back astronauts, as well. The exact departure date and time will depend on multiple factors, including the weather, so it is possible the August 1 date will be changed in the near future.

Assuming the Crew Dragon undocks from the ISS at 8 PM ET on August 1, it will splash down on Earth in the Atlantic ocean in the afternoon of August 2. Once this takes place, the SpaceX Demo-2 mission with NASA will be concluded, a historic moment for both the space agency and SpaceX.

During the demonstration, the SpaceX vehicle is limited to two astronauts, but it will carry four people going forward. The next mission, once NASA wraps up its review of the data from the demonstration, will be called Crew-1 with a launch expected to take place in September.