SpaceX Dragon Capsule Will Return To Earth On Tuesday
March 26, 2013

Dragon’s Space Station Departure Set For Today

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The threat of inclement weather has forced the departure of the SpaceX Dragon capsule from the International Space Station (ISS) to be delayed until Tuesday morning, NASA officials announced on Friday.

According to Mara D. Ballaby of Florida Today, the return voyage was originally scheduled to take place on Monday, but was delayed by one day due to anticipated poor conditions near its Pacific Ocean splashdown site.

ISS astronauts Tom Marshburn and Chris Hadfield are now scheduled to program the facility´s robotic arms to release Dragon at 7:06am Eastern time, she added. NASA officials told Ballaby the extra day would not adversely affect science samples that will be brought back to Earth onboard the capsule.

Dragon is currently scheduled to be detached from the Earth-facing side of the ISS´s Harmony module by NASA´s Marshburn, with Expedition 35 Commander Hadfield, of the Canadian Space Agency, serving as backup and monitoring the capsule´s systems during the process, the US space agency explained.

After being released, Dragon will execute three thruster firings in order to move a safe distance away from the station, where it will then begin its deorbit burn at 11:40am. The capsule is expected to land at approximately 12:36pm in the Pacific Ocean somewhere to the west of Baja California, they added.

Dragon, which is currently the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, will be bringing nearly 2,700 pounds worth of scientific samples back to Earth. Those samples include material dealing with human research, biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.

“Experiment samples coming back to Earth will help researchers continue to assess the impact of long-duration spaceflight on the human body,” NASA officials said in a statement.

“Returning plant samples will aid in food production during future long-duration space missions and enhance crop production on Earth,” they added. “Crystals grown aboard and returning from the station could help in the development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.”