How to watch Cygnus spacecraft depart International Space Station on Wednesday

Much of the western world may be taking a break this week for the holidays, but astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are still busy. On Wednesday, an uncrewed cargo spacecraft will depart from the ISS, carrying various scientific experiments into orbit on an extended mission.

NASA will be livestreaming the departure of the spacecraft from the ISS, and we’ve got the details on how to watch it live.

What’s in the cargo ship

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter approaches the International Space Station where the Canadarm2 robotic arm is poised to capture it for docking.
Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter approaches the International Space Station where the Canadarm2 robotic arm is poised to capture it for docking. NASA

The cargo spacecraft in question is a Northrop Grumman Cygnus, and it has been docked at the ISS for three months. It delivered nearly 8,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the astronauts there including experiments to target cancer therapies, to create an immersive VR spacewalk program, and to grow radishes. It also delivered a new space toilet.

While it has been docked, the astronauts have removed all of the cargo that it brought from Earth, and they have filled it up with things to be sent into an extended mission in orbit from the station. This includes the Saffire-V experiment, which looks at how to create a more effective fire suppression system for space use, and a telecommunications test called SharkSat. In addition, the cargo ship will be filled with trash that needs to be taken off the space station and disposed of.

This particular Cygnus is named after Kalpana Chawla, the first female astronaut of Indian descent, who died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.

What to expect from the departure

The Cygnus is scheduled to begin departure activities at 6:45 a.m. PT on Wednesday, January 6, with undocking scheduled for 7:10 a.m. PT.

Cygnus will detach from the station’s Unity module, from the port which faces Earth, and will maneuver into position. Then NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will use the station’s robotic arm to release Cygnus and it will begin its journey back to the planet.

NASA will livestream the release of Cygnus on NASA TV, with coverage beginning at 9:45 a.m. ET on Wednesday. You can watch either on NASA’s website or using the embedded video at the top of this page.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the destination of the Cygnus spacecraft.

Editors' Recommendations