SpaceX is ready to return the Dragon capsule that delivered over 6,400 pounds of scientific cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) early December, under the 21st Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-21) contract with NASA. The capsule is currently docked to the station’s Harmony module alongside the SpaceX Dragon Resilience spacecraft, that transported a crew of four astronauts to the orbiting laboratory in mid-November. It is the first time two SpaceX vehicles are docked simultaneously at the space station.
Image Created by: Erik Corshammar @ErcXspace via Twitter
Today, January 11, SpaceX CRS-21 Dragon was scheduled to undock in the morning, NASA postponed the return of the spacecraft due to unfavorable weather conditions at the splashdown zone in the Atlantic Ocean. Dragon is loaded with 5,200 pounds of important scientific cargo, including live mice, and the results of a variety of scientific experiments the crew performed in microgravity. Upon return, Dragon will cross Earth’s atmosphere to perform a parachute-assisted splashdown off Florida’s Coast. SpaceX and NASA aim to recover the spacecraft faster than before to return the experiments to scientists with minimal loss of the effects of microgravity. Stable weather conditions are needed to ensure all cargo arrives undamaged, and ensure SpaceX and NASA staff safety at sea when they work to recover the spacecraft. “As a result of adverse weather conditions at the targeted splashdown zone off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida, SpaceX has waved off today’s planned departure of an upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft,” the agency announced in a press release, “Teams are currently assessing weather conditions to determine the next opportunity for undocking.” This article will be updated when NASA announces new Dragon return date.
Mission controllers have called off today's @SpaceX #CargoDragon undocking due to weather conditions at the splashdown site off the coast of Florida. https://t.co/yuOTrZ4Jut pic.twitter.com/1XxsP37Vwh— International Space Station (@Space_Station) January 11, 2021
“Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers as soon as four to nine hours after splashdown. This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects,” NASA representatives state.