The spacecraft will touch down off the coast of Florida, so as to enable the expeditious transport of the experimental cargo to NASA’s Space Station Processing Facility at the agency’s Florida-based Kennedy Space Center. Doing so will expose the experiments to a minimal amount of Earth’s gravity, aiding the data collection process.
At 10:40 a.m. on Friday, Dragon will undock from the space-facing port of ISS’s Harmony module and fire its thrusters to create ample distance between itself and the launch site.
After a deorbit burn, the craft is scheduled to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere, and make a splashdown via parachute at approximately 4:25 p.m. on Saturday, Jan 22.
There will be an estimated 4,900+ pounds of supplies and scientific investigations onboard the spacecraft. Notably among them is the Light Microscopy Module (LMM), a light imaging microscope that has been on the station for 12 years doing colloid research, plant studies and thermophysics experiments.
Also included in the Dragon’s cargo will be an InSPACE-4 physics study that is returning samples containing information about harnessing nanoparticles to fabricate and construct new materials such as medical diagnostics and thermal shields.
Additionally, the Kennedy Space Center will be receiving an investigation called Cytoskeleton. Administered by the European Space Agency, this experiment looks at how the human body responds to microgravity, potentially contributing to health measures for astronaut crew members on future missions.
A year ago, in January 2021, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft brought upwards of 5,200 pounds of scientific materials to the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. The load included the experiments Space Organogenesis, Cardinal Heart, Sextant Navigation, and Rodent Research-23.