Revised Departure Schedule for SpaceX Dragon Amid Meteorological Concerns

by Hiroshi Tanaka
SpaceX Dragon Departure

NASA’s SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle, carrying more than 7,700 pounds of scientific equipment, supplies, and other materials, neared the International Space Station (ISS), floating 264 miles above the Atlantic Ocean, in the vicinity of South America and Africa in November 2022. This information is credited to NASA.

After a thorough weather assessment, NASA and SpaceX have decided to postpone the undocking of the 29th commercial resupply mission of Dragon from the ISS to no sooner than 5:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, December 21. This delay is due to adverse weather conditions in the Florida splashdown zones.

The departure of Dragon on Thursday will be broadcast starting at 4:45 p.m. on NASA+ streaming services, accessible via the web or NASA’s mobile application. The event will also be streamed live on NASA Television, YouTube, and the NASA website.

The Dragon spacecraft’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and subsequent splashdown near Florida’s coast will not be televised on NASA TV.

Additionally, NASA and Northrop Grumman are aiming for the Cygnus spacecraft to leave the ISS on Friday, December 22.

The broadcast for the Cygnus spacecraft’s departure on Friday will commence at 7:45 a.m., with the robotic release scheduled for 8:05 a.m. This will also be available on NASA+ streaming services, via the web or the NASA app, as well as live on NASA Television, YouTube, and the NASA website.

Following its unberthing, the Cygnus will engage in secondary payload operations and then make a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, disintegrating safely over the Pacific Ocean.

Image depicting the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft moving away from the ISS after detaching from the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Credit: NASA

SpaceX Cargo Dragon

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon plays a crucial role in advancing commercial space travel, especially in the domain of cargo delivery. Created by SpaceX, the Cargo Dragon is a specialized version of the Dragon spacecraft, intended for ferrying supplies, equipment, and occasionally scientific experiments to the ISS. Its ability to return a substantial amount of cargo to Earth, a feature not common among all cargo spacecraft, is particularly noteworthy.

Operational since 2012 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program, the Cargo Dragon exemplifies a significant leap in reusable spacecraft technology. SpaceX has shown the ability to refurbish and re-fly these vehicles, drastically reducing the costs of space access.

Image of a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft held by the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Credit: NASA

Northrop Grumman Cygnus Spacecraft

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft is another vital contributor to commercial spaceflight, focusing on ISS resupply. Initially developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation (now part of Northrop Grumman) under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, the Cygnus is mostly a disposable spacecraft, designed to burn up upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere after completing its mission.

Since becoming operational in 2013, the Cygnus can deliver both pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the ISS. Launched using Antares rockets from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia, the Cygnus plays an essential role in sustaining ongoing scientific research and the supply chain to the orbiting lab.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about SpaceX Dragon Departure

Why has the SpaceX Dragon’s departure from the ISS been delayed?

The SpaceX Dragon’s departure from the International Space Station (ISS) has been postponed to no earlier than 5:05 p.m. EST on December 21 due to unfavorable weather conditions in the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida.

Where can I watch the SpaceX Dragon departure and Cygnus spacecraft departure?

The departure of the SpaceX Dragon will be broadcast starting at 4:45 p.m. on the NASA+ streaming service, as well as live on NASA Television, YouTube, and the NASA website. Similarly, the Cygnus spacecraft departure will be broadcast starting at 7:45 a.m. on the same platforms.

What is the SpaceX Cargo Dragon, and what is its significance?

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon is a variant of the Dragon spacecraft, designed for transporting supplies and equipment to the ISS. It’s notable for its ability to return cargo to Earth and is part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program, highlighting advances in reusable spacecraft technology.

What is the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, and how does it differ from the Cargo Dragon?

The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, operational since 2013, is primarily a disposable spacecraft used for delivering cargo to the ISS. Developed under NASA’s COTS program, it differs from the Cargo Dragon in its disposable nature and plays a crucial role in ISS resupply missions.

More about SpaceX Dragon Departure

  • SpaceX Dragon Cargo Craft
  • NASA and SpaceX Collaboration
  • International Space Station (ISS)
  • Commercial Spaceflight Developments
  • NASA+ Streaming Service
  • Northrop Grumman Cygnus Spacecraft
  • NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services Program
  • SpaceX Reusable Spacecraft Technology
  • Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Program
  • ISS Scientific Research and Supply Chain

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SpaceFan99 December 21, 2023 - 12:10 pm

wow, another delay for SpaceX Dragon, they really need to get a handle on these weather issues. its like every other launch has problems?

SciGal45 December 21, 2023 - 5:48 pm

Does anyone know if the Cargo Dragon’s return cargo includes any of the recent experiment results? really keen to know more about that.

RocketRicky December 22, 2023 - 4:56 am

I’m excited to watch the coverage on NASA+, hope the signal’s good this time… last stream was a bit choppy.

TechEnthusiast December 22, 2023 - 4:58 am

Interesting read but there are a few typos here and there, could use a bit more editing next time. Still, good info on the resupply missions.

AstroMike December 22, 2023 - 5:18 am

Cygnus and Dragon, both doing great work for ISS. It’s amazing how far we’ve come in commercial spaceflight, kudos to SpaceX and Northrop Grumman!


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