SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft is scheduled to depart from the International Space Station (ISS) on December 21, 2023. NASA will be providing live coverage of the Dragon’s undocking and departure, starting at 4:45 p.m. EST on the NASA+ streaming service, NASA Television, YouTube, and their website.
The Dragon will undock from the Harmony module at 9:05 p.m. and move to a safe distance from the ISS after receiving commands from ground controllers. Following this, the spacecraft will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and splash down off the coast of Florida.
Upon its return, the Dragon will be bringing back over 4,300 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments specifically designed to take advantage of the microgravity environment in space. Among the experiments returning to Earth are those related to genetic adaptations in plants grown in space, studying how cells respond to gravity, and testing a method for measuring the length of telomeres in space. Samples from other experiments, including the study of phase change in mixtures and innovative paralysis therapy, will also be returning for analysis.
The Dragon initially arrived at the ISS on November 11 as part of SpaceX’s 29th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. Its cargo included research investigations, crew supplies, and station hardware.
The International Space Station is currently conducting numerous investigations in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. These studies aim to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies that will be useful for future human and robotic exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
For those interested in learning more about the International Space Station, NASA’s website provides additional information.
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