More patrols, less boat rides for Wednesday’s SpaceX splashdown


Cape Canaveral, Florida (AP) —This week, astronauts flying SpaceX to Earth urged boaters to stay away from the capsule splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA and SpaceX have promised more Coast Guard patrols and fewer pleasure boaters for a splashdown off the Florida Panhandle coast near Tallahassee scheduled Wednesday afternoon.

Last August, pleasure boaters flocked to a two-seater dragon capsule. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, commander of the dragon, said this time everyone was “very focused” on keeping the area clean.

“I don’t think any of us are too worried about landing on the boat,” he said at a press conference from the International Space Station.

Leaking fuel from the capsule thrusters can endanger anyone outside the capsule. Crowds can also hinder SpaceX’s recovery efforts.

Hopkins is about to complete his six-month mission with US crew members Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi. Their replacement arrived on Saturday in their own SpaceX capsules.

When Hopkins and his crew were launched last November, they wanted the COVID-19 to return to a world with less grip. According to Walker, they will be in semi-quarantine for some time, giving them time to bounce off the weakened immune system.

They roll up their sleeves for the first vaccination 7-10 days after the splashdown.

“We definitely enjoy not wearing masks here,” Walker said. “And you have to go back and wear the mask. That’s the right thing to do, and that’s what we do.”

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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