NASA’s SpaceX Dragon cargo freighter, loaded with approximately 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and other cargo from the International Space Station, will depart on July 6, bound for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean on July 8, completing the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission for NASA.
Live coverage of the departure will begin at 7:45 a.m. on July 6, on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app. NASA will not provide coverage of the splashdown.
Ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will command Dragon to undock from the space-facing port on the station’s Harmony module at 11 a.m., with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough monitoring aboard the station. The cargo craft will physically separate from the station five minutes later before firing its thrusters to move a safe distance away prior to a deorbit burn that will begin its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Dragon is expected to make its parachute-assisted splashdown around 12 a.m. on July 8.
Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to NASA’s Space Station Processing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and back into the hands of the researchers. This shorter transportation time frame allows researchers to collect data with minimal sample exposure to gravity.
Dragon launched June 3 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station a little less than 16 hours later. The spacecraft delivered more than 7,300 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost. Dragon’s external cargo “trunk” carried six new ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), two of which Expedition 65 crew members Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet, an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut, installed during three spacewalks June 16, 20, and 25.