NASA and SpaceX are postponing the Thursday, December 14, undocking of a SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft from the International Space Station (ISS) due to unfavorable weather conditions as a result of a cold front passing through the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida.
Joint teams continue to evaluate weather conditions to determine the best opportunity for Dragon to autonomously undock from the space station with the next available opportunity no earlier than 5:05 p.m. EST Friday, December 15.
Weather permitting for the Friday undocking, coverage of Dragon’s departure will begin at 4:45 p.m. on the NASA+ streaming service via the web or the NASA app. Coverage also will air live on NASA Television, YouTube, and on the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.
After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will splash down off the coast of Florida.
SpaceX Dragon Cargo Spacecraft
The SpaceX Dragon Cargo spacecraft, often simply referred to as the Dragon, represents a significant milestone in commercial spaceflight. Developed by SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company founded by Elon Musk, the Dragon spacecraft is designed to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
This spacecraft is notable for being the first commercially-built and operated spacecraft to be recovered successfully from orbit. The Dragon made its inaugural flight to the ISS in 2012, marking a major step forward in private-sector involvement in space exploration.
The Dragon is capable of carrying both pressurized and unpressurized cargo. Its pressurized section is designed to transport scientific experiments, crew supplies like food and clothing, and hardware. The unpressurized section, known as the “trunk,” carries larger items such as scientific equipment and satellite components.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is also unique for its ability to return a significant amount of cargo to Earth, a capability that was previously limited to the Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. This return capability is vital for transporting scientific samples and experiment results back to Earth for further analysis.
The Dragon is launched atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and autonomously docks with the ISS. After completing its mission, the spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, where it is retrieved.
Overall, the SpaceX Dragon Cargo spacecraft is a critical component in the current landscape of space exploration and logistics, enhancing our capability to transport materials to and from space efficiently and safely.