Featured Image Source: SpaceX
After a decade in operation, SpaceX's original Dragon spacecraft will be retired. The company conducted the craft's final resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 6, it is the 20th mission under a Commercial Resupply Cargo Services (CRS-20) contract with NASA. The contract, which was signed in 2008, was valued at $1.6 billion. Dragon has been in operation since 2012, the company will replace the spacecraft with an upgraded version Dragon V2, also known as Crew Dragon. Throughout the years, SpaceX has successfully transported vital equipment and science research, including live animals and plants. Overall, the original Dragon spacecraft(s) conducted 20 cargo missions to space.
After a month-long stay at the orbiting laboratory, Dragon will return to Earth on Tuesday, April 7. carrying over 4,000 pounds of important scientific cargo. NASA TV will livestream Dragon's final departure from the International Space Station beginning at 8:45 a.m. EDT. tomorrow. The spacecraft will be released from the station's robotic arm at around 9:15 a.m. EDT. Robotic flight controllers from mission control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, will send commands to the space station's robotic Canadarm2 arm to release the Dragon capsule.
.@AstroDrewMorgan has been on the station since July 20 and saw three @SpaceX #Dragon cargo missions. He will be monitoring Dragon's departure one final time on Tuesday at 9:15am ET. Read more... https://t.co/vNVG3VGgko pic.twitter.com/Lmv9T8RGiG— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) April 5, 2020
Astronaut Andrew Morgan, a flight engineer, will monitor the craft's release. Upon release, Dragon will depart from the station by using its thrusters to move away. Then, it will execute a deorbit burn to reenter Earth's atmosphere. NASA expects the craft to return from space at around 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday. When Dragon falls through our atmosphere, it will perform a parachute-assisted splashdown southwest of Long Beach, California, in the Pacific Ocean.
Dragon's final splashdown will mark the end of an era. Elon Musk, founder and CEO at SpaceX, said last month:
"Hard to believe it's almost time to retire Dragon after a decade of solid service."
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