Dragon Returns to Earth
The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft maneuvers
away from the International Space Station.
Credit: NASA TV
The Dragon capsule will be taken by boat to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours. This includes a GLACIER freezer packed with research samples collected in the orbiting laboratory's unique microgravity environment. These samples will help advance multiple scientific disciplines on Earth and provide critical data on the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. The remainder of the cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule.
The ground team at Mission Control Houston remotely commanded the stations robotic arm to uninstall Dragon from the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node at 7:19 a.m. after Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams removed the bolts and latches of the Common Berthing Mechanism that had secured the cargo craft to the station since Oct 10.
A set of programmed commands to Canadarm2 then maneuvered Dragon out to the 15-meter release point, where Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide ungrappled Dragon at 9:29 a.m. and backed the arm away.
View video of SpaceX Dragon departure
Hurricane Sandy was viewed from station
cameras in the Bahamas off the east coast
Credit: NASA TV
Dragon launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket Oct. 7 at 8:35 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning NASA's first contracted cargo delivery flight, designated SpaceX CRS-1, to the station.
Read about SpaceX CRS-1 launch
The mission was the first of at least 12 cargo resupply missions to the space station planned by SpaceX through 2016 under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.
On Friday, cameras aboard the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Sandy as it moved through the Bahamas off the east coast of Florida.
View video of second pass
View video of first pass
NASA coverage of Hurricane Sandy
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Read more about Expedition 33