May 20, 2015 – The International Space Station Expedition 43 crew completed preparations today to send SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle back to Earth on Thursday, May 21. NASA Television will provide live coverage of Dragon’s departure beginning at 4:45 a.m. MDT. Dragon is currently the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact.
NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts transferred samples from two of the station’s Minus Eighty Degree Celsius Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, freezers for return on Dragon. These included samples from the Cell Shape and Expression, CASIS PCG-3, Nematode Muscles experiments along with human research samples.
After final cargo loading was completed, the crew closed the hatch to Dragon and began preparing it for release tomorrow.
The Dragon capsule, which arrived at the station April 17, will be detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module using the Canadarm 2 robotic arm, operated by ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA’s Mission Control Center will maneuver Dragon into place and Expedition 43 robotic arm operator Scott Kelly of NASA will give the command for its 5:04 a.m. MDT release.
The Dragon will fire its thrusters three times to move to a safe distance from the station for its deorbit burn at approximately 9:49 a.m.
The capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean at about 10:42 a.m. with more than 3,100 pounds of cargo. This will include science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station.
The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.
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