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Image Credit: NASA TV.

Cargo Dragon departs the International Space Station

The SpX CRS-23 Cargo Dragon space freighter of aerospace manufacturer and telecommunications services provider SpaceX, departed the International Space Station (ISS) on September 30, 2021, after a one-month long mission.

The Dragon 2 spacecraft undocked from the Harmony module’s forward docking port at 01:12 p.m. UTC and almost immediately afterward conducted two undock burns and one departure burn to move away from the orbital laboratory.

About seven minutes after physical separation, the Cargo Dragon conducted a second departure burn, to move away from the station even further. That was followed by the exiting of the keep out sphere, an imaginary 200 meters wide sphere around the station. Around 21 minutes after undocking, the freighter exited the 4-by-2-by-2 kilometers large approach ellipsoid around the ISS. Command over the spacecraft was then handed over from ground controllers in Houston to SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. Over the next couple of hours, Dragon is expected to conduct multiple departure and phasing burns, to prepare for its return to the planet.

The resupply freighter is scheduled to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere later this evening, after performing a several minute long retrograde deorbit burn to slow down. Splashdown off the coast of Florida is expected to occur on Friday morning, October 01 at around 03:00 a.m. (11:00 p.m. local time).

The SpX CRS-23 Cargo Dragon departs the ISS. Undocking occurred at 01:12  p.m. UTC. Image Credit: NASA TV.
The SpX CRS-23 Cargo Dragon departs the ISS. Undocking occurred at 01:12 p.m. UTC. Image Credit: NASA TV.

Once secured by recovery forces and hoisted onboard one of SpaceX’ recovery vessels, science investigations returned from the station will be flown to shore by helicopter to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. This will allow scientist to study the experiments conducted onboard the orbital laboratory as soon as possible.

Dragon’s mission, known as “SpX CRS-23”, was the 23rd resupply flight to the ISS conducted by SpaceX and the company’s third mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 contract.

The Cargo Dragon began its journey to the ISS on August 29, 2021, by blasting off from historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The vehicle rendezvoused with the orbital laboratory about 1 ½ days later on August 30 and subsequently docked to the Harmony module. It delivered over 2,100 kg of science investigations and supplies to the ISS and will now return about two tonnes back to the planet.

Dragon blasts off from LC-39A atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Image Credit: SpaceX.
Dragon blasts off from LC-39A atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Image Credit: SpaceX.

Once back on Earth, SpaceX will refurbish the capsule and will reuse it on a future mission to the space station.

The next Cargo Dragon to be launched to the International Space Station is scheduled to blast off from Florida no earlier than December 04, 2021.


Sources:

https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/2021/09/30/spacex-cargo-dragon-undocked-from-station/

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-tv-to-air-us-cargo-ship-departure-from-space-station-2

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