The SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule lifted off from the International Space Station and began returning to Earth on Friday (August 19), setting the stage for the weekend.
uninhabited the Dragon supply ship not moored from 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. NASA officials said the spacecraft will return on Saturday (August 20).
“Bye Dragon, thank you for all the supplies and the science,” Michael Ellsworth, a spacecraft communications specialist at NASA, radioed 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 Reply from aboard the space station. A video of the Dragon class showed stunning views of the spacecraft as it moved away from the International Space Station during an orbital sunrise.
Related: SpaceX Dragon: The first private spacecraft to reach the space station
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Dragon was launched above a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on July 14th and Arrived at the International Space Station Two days later with about 5,800 pounds (2,630 kilograms) of supplies and scientific instruments for the occupants of the orbiting lab. NASA and SpaceX had originally hoped to dismantle the Dragon cargo ship on Thursday, but canceled the departure due to bad weather at the spray site off the coast of Florida.
The cargo ship is scheduled to return to a land NASA officials said rain fell in the ocean off the coast of Florida on Saturday at 2:53 p.m. EDT (1853 GMT). It’s packed for the return trip with nearly 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.
The current Dragon 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 International Space Station for NASA.
SpaceX also has a separate deal for NASA to move astronaut missions to and from the orbiting laboratory, which it does with the manned version of the Dragon. SpaceX is in the middle of the fourth phase of these astronauts’ missions, called Crew 4Crew-5 is scheduled to be launched at the end of September.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on August 19th with confirmation that SpaceX’s Dragon X cargo ship docked successfully from the space station.
Mike Wall is the author of “Abroad (Opens in a new tab)Book (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab) or on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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