The Crew Dragon spacecraft as it leaves the International Space Station. Photo: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are heading back to Earth from the International Space Station aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Why it matters: Behnken and Hurley's return will mark the end of SpaceX's first crewed mission to the station and the first mission in which American astronauts launched from U.S. soil in nine years.

Details: Hurley and Behnken undocked from the space station about 7:35 p.m. ET on Saturday. If all goes according to plan, the two astronauts should be back on Earth tomorrow.

  • The Crew Dragon is expected to splash down off the Florida coast on Sunday at 2:42 p.m. ET.

Between the lines: Coming back home from space is always a pretty intense experience, but Behnken and Hurley are prepared for it.

  • Both are veteran astronauts who flew missions aboard the space shuttle.
  • And just in case they feel a little queasy while reentering the atmosphere and coming down for a landing, the Crew Dragon comes equipped with bags and towels.
  • "It wouldn't be the first time that that's happened in a space vehicle," Hurley said during a press briefing ahead of undocking.

The big picture: Behnken and Hurley's mission and those that follow are ushering in a new era of spaceflight for NASA, one marked by partnerships with commercial companies that serve not only the government, but other private entities.

  • Along with SpaceX, NASA also has a contract with Boeing to eventually fly people to the space station, and the agency is making plans to allow private individuals to launch to the station for tourist flights.

Go deeper: NASA passes the torch

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Oct 13, 2020 - Science

What the Artemis Accords mean for the future of lunar exploration

The Moon. Photo: NASA/JSC

Eight nations signed on this week to the Artemis Accords, a set of principles for exploring the Moon and using its resources.

Why it matters: While NASA's Artemis program to land people on the Moon by 2024 is very much led and developed by the space agency, NASA officials want other countries to buy into lunar exploration through the Artemis Accords in order to make that exploration sustainable and international.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call — Fauci says he's "absolutely not" surprised Trump got coronavirus.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  4. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  5. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.

Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call

Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

During a campaign call on Monday, President Trump slammed infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, calling him a "disaster," and that "people are tired of COVID," according to multiple reporters who listened to the call.

Driving the news: CBS's "60 Minutes" aired an interview Sunday night with the NIAID director, where he said he was "absolutely not" surprised Trump contracted COVID-19 after seeing him on TV in a crowded place with "almost nobody wearing a mask."