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Tue, Jan 12, 2021

Return From Space Delayed Due To.... Weather?

SpaceX Waves Off Undocking of Cargo Dragon

As a result of adverse weather conditions at the targeted splashdown zone off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida, SpaceX waved off Monday’s planned departure of an upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft.

Teams are currently assessing weather conditions to determine the next opportunity for undocking.

Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers as soon as four to nine hours after splashdown.

This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects. Previous cargo Dragon spacecraft returned to the Pacific Ocean, with quick-return science cargo processed at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, and delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

In addition, science returns from the space station through NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle.

“I am excited to finally see science returning here again because we can get these time sensitive experiments into the lab faster than ever,” says Kennedy Space Center utilization project manager Jennifer Wahlberg. “Sending science up to space and then receiving it again on the runway was definitely something in the shuttle days that we really took pride in, and being able to rejoin that process is great.”

As the spacecraft returns to Earth, the experiments start to experience the effects of gravity again. Splashdown sets into motion rapid operations to return the samples and experiments back to researchers around the world. After a SpaceX boat scoops the capsule out of the water, a waiting team pulls time-critical science out of the spacecraft and loads it onto a waiting helicopter. The helicopter will deliver this science to shore a few hours after splashdown. Any remaining scientific cargo will come back either in a second helicopter load or stay aboard the boat and be removed at the port.

FMI: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation

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