The SpaceX Dragon that arrived at the International Space Station on the company’s 21st resupply services mission for NASA is scheduled to depart on Monday, 11 January, loaded with 2358 kilograms of scientific experiments and other cargo. NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast its departure live beginning at 16:00.
The upgraded Cargo Dragon spacecraft will execute the first undocking of a U.S. commercial cargo craft from the International Docking Adapter, with NASA astronaut Victor Glover monitoring aboard the station.
Dragon will fire its thrusters to move a safe distance from the station’s space-facing port of the Harmony module, then initiate a deorbit burn to begin its re-entry sequence into Earth’s atmosphere. Dragon is expected to make its parachute-assisted splashdown around 9 p.m. – the first return of a cargo resupply spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean. The deorbit burn and splashdown will not air on NASA TV.
Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the cargo aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, and back into the hands of the researchers. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects. For splashdowns in the Pacific Ocean, quick-return science cargo is processed at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, and delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
— NASA (@NASA) January 4, 2021
Dragon launched on 6 December via the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, arriving at the station just over 24 hours later and achieving the first autonomous docking of a U.S. commercial cargo resupply spacecraft. Previous arriving cargo Dragon spacecraft was captured and attached to the space station by astronauts operating the station’s robotic Canadarm2. The spacecraft delivered more than 2902 kilograms of hardware, research investigations and crew supplies.
You can watch the live broadcast Monday, 11 January by clicking here.