A SpaceX (opens in new tab) Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft will undock from the International Space Station Tuesday (Jan. 7) to begin a 5-hour journey back to Earth, and you can watch its departure live online.
The unpiloted Dragon capsule (opens in new tab), flying on a mission called CRS-19, is scheduled to leave the orbiting laboratory at 5:03 a.m. EST (1003 GMT), when mission controllers in Houston will command the station's Canadarm2 robot arm to release it into space. You can watch a live webcast of the Dragon's departure live here on Space.com (opens in new tab), courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 4:45 a.m. EST (0945 GMT).
After firing its thrusters to maneuver away from the station, the Dragon will execute a deorbit burn that will send it plummeting into Earth's atmosphere, where it will conduct a parachute-assisted splashdown around 10:47 a.m. EST (1547 GMT), in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Long Beach, California. NASA and SpaceX will not provide live coverage of the splashdown.
The used CRS-19 vessel launched to the space station (opens in new tab) for the third time on Dec. 5; it previously flew on SpaceX's CRS-4 mission in 2014, followed by the CRS-11 mission in 2017, when it became the first Dragon capsule to complete a second cargo run.
It arrived at the station on Dec. 8 with more than 5,700 lbs. (2,585 kilograms) of supplies, including more than 2,100 lbs. (952 kg) of science equipment for the astronauts of Expeditions 61 and 62.
Dragon will return to Earth with 3,600 lbs. (1,633 kg) of experiments, including a so-called "mighty mice" for studying muscle and bone loss (opens in new tab), a radiation resistance experiment involving "tiny aquatic animals called rotifers, as well as a series of crystal growth demonstrations.
- How SpaceX's Dragon Space Capsule Works (Infographic) (opens in new tab)
- SpaceX Dragon Capsule Returns to Earth with NASA Science Haul (opens in new tab)
- Used SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station for Record 3rd Time (opens in new tab)