UPDATE: The Cargo Dragon’s undocking was originally planned for Thursday, but poor weather conditions at the splashdown site has forced NASA to delay the departure until Friday. This article has been updated to reflect that change.
A SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft will undock from the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, August 19, and NASA will livestream the entire process.
The Dragon will carry back to Earth more than 4,000 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments that ISS astronauts worked on in microgravity conditions. At the end of its journey, the spacecraft will land in the ocean close to Florida.
“Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the experiments to NASA’s Space Station Processing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, allowing researchers to collect data with minimal sample exposure to Earth’s gravity,” NASA said.
When it arrived at the orbital outpost on July 16 as part of SpaceX’s 25th commercial resupply mission, the Cargo Dragon brought with it more than 5,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and station hardware.
The vehicle was launched to orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 14.
Fans of slow TV will enjoy the gentle spectacle of the Cargo Dragon edging away from the ISS around 250 miles above Earth, although in reality both the spacecraft and orbital laboratory will be traveling through space at around 17,000 mph.
NASA’s livestream will include the live audio feed featuring SpaceX controllers and astronauts aboard the ISS, who together will ensure the Dragon’s safe departure. If the broadcast is anything like its previous ones, the space agency will also provide its own commentary offering viewers a clearer insight into the steps required to bring the Dragon home.
Coverage of the Dragon’s undocking and departure from the space station will begin at 10:45 a.m. ET on Friday, August 19.
Twenty minutes later, controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will send commands for Dragon to disconnect from the forward port of the space station’s Harmony module and fire its thrusters to help it move a safe distance away from the facility.
You can watch live coverage of the event via the video player at the top of this page, or by visiting NASA’s YouTube channel, which will feature the same footage. NASA’s mobile app will also carry the livestream.
On Friday, controllers will command the all-important deorbit burn to send the Dragon toward Earth’s atmosphere.
In the final stages of its journey home, the Dragon will deploy parachutes to slow its descent before coming down in the ocean off the coast of Florida. NASA confirmed that it will not be carrying a livestream of the splashdown, though it did promise to provide updates via its blog.
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