A robotic SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule docked with the International Space Station returns to Earth today (April 15).
The Dragon CRS-27 supply ship undocked from the International Space Station at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT), with both spacecraft orbiting high in the Indian Ocean, beginning an hour-long journey to its home planet. It was expected to splash down on Earth six hours after disconnection, SpaceX wrote Twitter update (opens in new tab).
“After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will make a parachute-assisted splashdown on the coast of Florida on Saturday, April 15,” NASA wrote. Blog (opens in new tab). NASA will not broadcast the Dragon capsule’s splashdown live.
Related: Facts about SpaceX’s Dragon capsule
Dragon launched into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on March 14, kicking off SpaceX’s 27th robotic cargo flight to an orbiting laboratory for NASA.
The Dragon carried about 6,300 pounds (2,860 kilograms) of material on its mission, known as CRS-27. (CRS stands for “Commercial Redistribution Services.”) The inventory includes a variety of hardware, 60 different science experiments, and some tasty treats for the station astronauts.
“The crew requested some fresh fruit and refrigerated cheese,” Phil Dempsey, NASA’s International Space Station transportation coordination manager, said during a March 13 CRS-27 preview press conference. [and] Cherry tomatoes and some different cheeses.”
According to a NASA blog post, CRS-27 Dragon will carry “experimental hardware and research samples” weighing about 4,300 pounds (1,950 kg) to Earth today.
This is a unique capability of the SpaceX capsule. The two other robotic cargo ships currently serving the space station — Russia’s Progress Vehicle and Nordob Grumman’s Cygnus — are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after their time in orbit.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:45 pm ET to reflect the successful removal of the Dragon CRS-27 spacecraft.
By Mike Wall “outside (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelWall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).