A SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule lifted off from the International Space Station and began returning to Earth on Friday (Aug 19), setting the stage for a weekend splashdown.
the unmanned Continue undocked supply ship International Space Station (ISS) at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT) as both spacecraft sailed 259 miles over the South Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. The spacecraft will return on Saturday (Aug. 20), NASA officials said.
“Goodbye Dragon, thanks for all the supplies and science,” NASA spacecraft communicator Michael Ellsworth radioed to the station crew from Mission Control in Houston. “We look forward to your return to Earth.”
“Congratulations to the team on a successful SpaceX-25 mission,” NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins responded from aboard the space station. Dragon undocking video showed stunning views of the spacecraft moving away from the ISS during an orbital sunrise.
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The Dragon threw himself on top of a spacex Falcon 9 rocket on July 14 and arrived at the ISS two days later with about 5,800 pounds (2,630 kilograms) of scientific supplies and equipment for the occupants of the orbiting laboratory. NASA and SpaceX originally hoped to undock the cargo ship Dragon on Thursday, but canceled the departure due to bad weather at its splashdown site off the Florida coast.
The freighter is scheduled to return to Land in a splashdown in the ocean off the coast of Florida on Saturday at 2:53 p.m. EDT (1853 GMT), NASA officials said. It is packed for the return trip with approximately 4,000 pounds (1,815 kg) of experiments and other equipment for researchers to analyze. NASA and SpaceX are not expected to livestream the landing, but will likely share updates on social media.
Dragon’s current mission is called Commercial Resupply Services 25, or CRS-25 and SpaceX-25 for short. As the name suggests, it is the 25th contracted cargo flight that SpaceX has flown to the ISS for NASA.
SpaceX also has a separate agreement with NASA to fly astronaut missions to and from the orbiting lab, which it does with the manned version of Dragon. SpaceX is in the midst of the fourth of these astronaut missions, called Crew-4and is scheduled to launch Crew-5 in late September.
Publisher’s note: This story was updated in August. 19 with confirmation of a successful undocking of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship from the space station.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @spacedot.com (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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