Dragon Returns to Earth on Wednesday

SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)
SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship is ending its stay tomorrow at the International Space Station. The commercial cargo craft has been packed with about 3,700 pounds of cargo, spacewalk gear and biological samples for analysis on Earth.

Astronauts Tim Peake and Jeff Williams will be at the controls of the Canadarm2 robotic arm when the command to release Dragon is given at 9:18 a.m. EDT/1:18 p.m. UTC. Dragon will parachute to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hours later for recovery by SpaceX personnel. NASA TV will televise the release and departure activities starting at 9 a.m.

While the astronauts in the U.S. segment loaded Dragon, their Russian counterparts conducted research exploring diverse fields such as physics, biology and human research. They researched how space radiation affects materials that simulate human tissue for the long-running Matryeshka study. The crew also looked at how the space environment affects a crew member’s carotid artery and immune system.