ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A fireball may light up the sky in several states Monday night as a Space X capsule reenters the atmosphere.
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Space X’s Crew Dragon capsule will splash down off the coast of Florida around 9:30 p.m. CST, resulting in a possible fireball and loud sonic boom, according to the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport.
While the intended target for the splashdown is in the Pensacola area, remnants of the fireball may be visible many states away. The forecast over the Gulf of Mexico calls for clear skies, the New York Times reports, so the splashdown should be easy to view.
Four astronauts are aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Their return to Earth will cap off a six-month mission at the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide and France’s Thomas Pesquet should have been back Monday morning, but high wind in the recovery zone delayed their homecoming.
“One more night with this magical view. Who could complain? I’ll miss our spaceship!” Pesquet tweeted alongside a brief video showing the space station illuminated against the blackness of space and the twinkling city lights on the nighttime side of Earth.
It wasn’t the most comfortable ride back. The toilet in their capsule was broken, and so the astronauts needed to rely on diapers for the eight-hour trip home. They shrugged it off late last week as just one more challenge in their mission.
The first issue arose shortly after their April liftoff; Mission Control warned a piece of space junk was threatening to collide with their capsule. It turned out to be a false alarm. Then in July, thrusters on a newly arrived Russian lab inadvertently fired and sent the station into a spin. The four astronauts took shelter in their docked SpaceX capsule, ready to make a hasty departure if necessary.
Among the upbeat milestones: four spacewalks to enhance the station’s solar power, a movie-making visit by a Russian film crew and the first-ever space harvest of chile peppers. Their 200-day mission began last April.
This is the second of six NASA and SpaceX crewed missions that are part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.
You can watch the Crew Dragon’s splashdown below:
The next mission, called Crew-3, was supposed to take off last weekend but was delayed by weather issues and then a “minor medical issue” with one of the astronauts. Its launch is now slated for this Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.