High seas force postponement of CRS-14 Dragon departure from ISS
Originally scheduled for May 2, 2018, SpaceX’s CRS-14 Dragon cargo ship, which is currently attached to the International Space Station, is now expected to return to Earth May 5, according to NASA.
“Dragon’s departure was pushed back from Wednesday after SpaceX personnel observed high sea states in the Pacific Ocean splashdown zone southwest of Long Beach, California,” the U.S. space agency said in a statement.
Dragon has been berthed at the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module since April 4, 2018. The capsule is expected to be remotely removed and released via the robotic Canadarm2, which is currently scheduled for about 9:30 a.m. EDT (13:30 GMT) May 5, according to NASA. Re-entry and splashdown is targeted for about 3 p.m. EDT (19:00 GMT).
SpaceX is currently the only spacecraft that can transport large amounts of cargo downhill from the ISS to Earth. As such, NASA said the spacecraft is bringing more than 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) of science and technology demonstration samples from the outpost to be analyzed on the ground.
Some of that cargo will be removed once the capsule is transported to Long Beach, California, NASA said. However, the rest will be removed and transferred to the space agency once Dragon is transported to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for final processing.
Among the experiments NASA said are being returned are samples from the Metabolic Tracking study, which is studying techniques to improve pharmaceuticals in microgravity; the APEX-06 investigation, which is looking at the development and gene expression of seedlings from grain crops; and the third Fruit Fly Lab, which is studying the effects of microgravity on innate immunity.
Also among the cargo being returned is Robonaut2. The humanoid robot, which was launched in aboard Space Shuttle Discovery 2011, is in need of repair.
CRS-14 is the second fight for this particular Dragon spacecraft. The first time it traveled to the ISS was in April 2016 during the CRS-8 mission.
This is 14th SpaceX flight under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program. The company has six more flights scheduled to be performed under the first phase of the contract before the second phase, Commercial Resupply Services 2, begins.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity.