After delivering more than 5,800 pounds of science investigations and cargo for NASA, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is set to depart the International Space Station on Wednesday, May 2. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Dragon’s departure beginning at 10 a.m. EDT.
Flight controllers on Earth will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the Dragon capsule, which arrived April 4, from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module. After maneuvering Dragon into place, they will give the command to release the spacecraft as Expedition 55 Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA monitors its departure at 10:22 a.m.
Dragon’s thrusters will be fired to move the spacecraft a safe distance from the station before SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, command its deorbit burn. The capsule will splash down about 4:02 p.m. in the Pacific Ocean, where recovery forces will retrieve the capsule and more than 4,000 pounds of cargo, including science samples from human and animal research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities. The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.
NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization that manages research conducted aboard the station’s U.S. National Laboratory, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown. In the event of adverse weather conditions in the splashdown zone in the Pacific, the departure and splashdown will occur on the backup date of May 5.
Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact. SpaceX launched its 14th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station April 2 on a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.