CRS-4 Dragon Returns / Image Credit : SpaceX
Completing its five week mission, the SpaceX CRS-4 Dragon capsule departed from the International Space Space Station at 8:57 AM CDT Saturday morning. A little under six hours later, it was floating in the Pacific Ocean several hundred miles west of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.
Following the Dragon’s established procedure, a commercial barge retrieved the capsule for return to port near Los Angeles today, turning over the time-critical portion of the craft’s 3,276 lb load of cargo to NASA within the 48 timeframe specified by contract. The fifth Dragon to visit ISS and the sixth to return from orbit overall, will then be shipped to SpaceX’s Mcgregor, Texas rocket development facility for processing.
There is little rest for the weary however, either on Earth or high above it. In another sign that U.S. commercial suppliers are achieving the cadence NASA needs to maintain the pace of science on ISS, Orbital Sciences is counting down to an early evening flight of the SS. Deke Slayton Cygnus resupply ship aboard an Antares booster this evening. Liftoff from the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s OA launchpad at the Wallops Flight Facility is scheduled for 6:45 PM EDT. NASA coverage begins one hour before launch.
An OSC visibility chart for this evening’s launch. With clear fall skies predicted for almost the entire viewing area, tonight’s launch should provide a great opportunity for those within range to catch a glimpse of commercial spaceflight in action.