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Watch SpaceX Dragon depart ISS May 11

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, carrying valuable science research, will depart from the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth. Watch it live.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2. The spacecraft delivered about 7,000 pounds of science and research investigations on April 10, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). Image credit: NASA

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship is grappled by the International Space Station’s Canadarm2. The spacecraft delivered about 7,000 pounds of science and research investigations on April 10, 2016. Image credit: NASA

On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, carrying valuable science research, will depart from the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth. NASA Television will provide live coverage of Dragon’s departure beginning at 9 a.m. EDT. Watch here.

The Dragon spacecraft, which arrived at the station on April 10, 2016 with almost 7,000 pounds of cargo, will be detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module using a robotic arm operated by ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Robotics controllers will maneuver Dragon into place. Aboard the ISS, robotic arm operator Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will execute the command for the Dragon’s 9:18 a.m. EDT release.

Dragon will fire its thrusters three times to move to a safe distance from the station before being commanded to begin its deorbit burn about 2 p.m. EDT. The capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 2:55 p.m. EDT. The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

A recovery team will retrieve the capsule and its more than 3,700 pounds of return cargo, including samples from ongoing space station research, which ultimately will be shipped to laboratories for further study. This cargo includes samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities. The spacecraft also will return the final batch of human research samples from the one-year crew mission.

he SpaceX Dragon is in the center right of the image attached to the Harmony module. The Japanese Kibo lab module, with its robotic arm and Exposed Facility, dominates the foreground. Image credit: NASA TV

he SpaceX Dragon is in the center right of the image attached to the Harmony module. The Japanese Kibo lab module, with its robotic arm and Exposed Facility, dominates the foreground. Image credit: NASA TV

In the event of adverse weather conditions in the Pacific, the backup departure and splashdown date is Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched April 8, 2016 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s eighth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station.

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Bottom line: The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, carrying valuable science research, will depart from the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth on May 11, 2016. NASA TV will provide live coverage of the departure.

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Eleanor Imster

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