What SpaceX and NASA must do to bring astronauts home in Crew Dragon

Two NASA astronauts aboard the space station are about to embark on a fiery fall through the atmosphere and into the ocean.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first people to fly SpaceX’s new spacecraft, Crew Dragon, on May 30. It was the first manned launch from US soil since July 2011, and the first launch of a commercial spacecraft with humans inside. The spacecraft docked at the International Space Station (ISS) the next day, and Behnken and Hurley have been conducting science experiments and spacewalks ever since.

But now comes the difficult part: bringing them back to Earth.

Behnken and Hurley must board the Crew Dragon again and return at full speed to the atmosphere, a journey that will require the spacecraft to withstand temperatures of up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said falling to Earth is what worries him most about the Demo-2 mission.

This is how each step of the return journey must unfold to bring astronauts home safely.