Science

SpaceX Dragon capsule set to return to Earth

PTI Washington | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on March 25, 2013

The Dragon spacecraft stands inside a processing hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where teams had just installed the spacecraft's solar array fairings on Jan. 12, 2013. (Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

The unmanned private spacecraft that carried NASA’s Cargo to the International Space Station is set to return to Earth tomorrow, more than three weeks after it first arrived at the ISS.

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft’s originally scheduled return date today was postponed due to inclement weather developing near its targeted splashdown site in the Pacific Ocean.

It will return about 1,210 kilogrammes of science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.

The additional day spent attached to the orbiting laboratory will not affect science samples scheduled to return aboard the spacecraft, NASA said in a statement.

Dragon is the only space station re-supply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact.

Experiment samples coming back to Earth will help researchers continue to assess the impact of long-duration spaceflight on the human body.

Dragon is scheduled to be detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module and unearthed by Expedition 35 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn.

Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency will back-up Marshburn and monitor Dragon’s systems during the activity.

Marshburn, working from the robotic work station in the space station’s cupola, will manoeuvre the station’s robotic arm for the release of the spacecraft.

Dragon will execute three thruster firings to move away from the station to a safe distance for its de-orbit burn and will splash down around in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California.

Returning plant samples will aid in food production during future long-duration space missions and enhance crop production on Earth, said NASA.

Crystals grown aboard and returning from the station could help in the development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.

Published on March 25, 2013

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