The SpaceX mission to the International Space Station will have a special moment for the Portuguese. On the way from the Dragon module to the space laboratory, both aircraft will pass over the country and can be seen as two points of light crossing the sky.
All you need to do is look south, close to the horizon, around 10 pm until 10:30 pm and, in a second observation opportunity, between 11:30 pm and midnight – everything depends on the municipality where you live. The International Space Station will be the first to pass but, minutes later, the Dragon will appear in the sky.
Of course, as with the launch of the mission, weather conditions can also make this night of special observation difficult. If you're lucky – just like NASA and SpaceX had this Saturday – you'll be able to see the first private manned capsule en route to the International Space Station.
To find out what time the Dragon and the space laboratory in your city can use two pages. One is called Heavens Above, can be visited here and is a site nonprofit that helps space curious find flying objects. Another is the N2Yo and he, too, can predict when satellites and other aircraft will pass at his location.
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley travel in the Dragon module, which arrived in space embedded in the nose of Falcon 9. It is due to dock at the International Space Station at 3:29 pm on Sunday, 19 hours after takeoff.
This mission is paramount for the future of space exploration. It will be the first time since 2011, nine years ago, that the United States has returned to manned flights from American soil and with home technology. Since the reform of the Space Shuttle program, NASA-certified astronauts have hitchhiked from the Russians to space in exchange for 85 million euros per seat.
In addition, if the mission is successful and correctly docked on the International Space Station, SpaceX will become the first private company to travel to the space laboratory 408 kilometers above Earth. It will be an important signal that could solidify the role of private investment in plans of another magnitude, such as the return to the Moon. And it will open up the increasingly realistic possibility of space tourism.
Waiting for Bob and Doug, the name by which the American astronaut duo is known, are Chris Cassidy (USA), Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner (Russia). The return of the astronauts is not yet scheduled, but it should only occur within a month or, at most, until the end of September.