The SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship Is Not Coming Home Just Yet

The space freighter will fly back to Earth on Sunday morning.

The SpaceX CRS-16 Dragon photographed from the cupola of the International Space Station on December 31, 2018.
NASA / Wikimedia Commons/Cropped and Resized

The space freighter will fly back to Earth on Sunday morning.

SpaceX’s new-generation astronaut pod is not the only Dragon facing a delay. The rocket company’s cargo capsule has also postponed its scheduled spaceflight, announced NASA.

The Dragon resupply vessel was supposed to return to Earth earlier today after spending a month docked with the International Space Station (ISS). However, it seems that the spacecraft will remain attached to the orbital outpost for a few more days due to bad weather, the space agency explained in a blog post.

The Dragon won’t be making the journey home until the weekend and is currently scheduled to come back to Earth on January 13.

“Inclement Weather”

As the Inquisitr previously reported, the spacecraft was due to make an ocean landing this morning, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Nevertheless, NASA and SpaceX opted to push back the trip to Earth until Sunday after receiving reports of rough, stormy weather at the targeted landing site.

“Mission managers observed inclement weather at Dragon’s splashdown site in the Pacific Ocean and decided against Dragon’s return to Earth today,” stated NASA officials.

With its stay at the ISS now prolonged, the SpaceX freighter will continue to wait in the grips of the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm, which grappled the capsule on Monday night ahead of its trip to Earth.

Come Sunday morning, the Canadarm2 robotic arm will release the Dragon from the ISS once the capsule is finally ready to undock from the station’s Harmony module and head back home.

“Robotics controllers will command the Canadarm2 to uninstall Dragon from Harmony on Saturday afternoon then slowly maneuver the U.S. space freighter to its release position,” noted NASA.

The Canadarm2 is scheduled to release the Dragon capsule at 3:36 a.m. EST on Sunday, while NASA astronaut Anne McClain monitors the procedure from the space station’s cupola. The departure of the Dragon spacecraft from the ISS will be livestreamed on NASA TV starting at 3:15 a.m. EST.

Loaded With Science Experiments

The Dragon cargo ship arrived at the space station on December 8, hauling 5,600 pounds of gear and supplies as part of SpaceX’s CRS-16 mission. The spacecraft won’t be making the return trip with an empty cargo hold and is actually carrying a suite of science experiments due to be delivered back to Earth.

According to a mission update, the crew of Expedition 58 has spent the day “checking out and preserving the space research meant for return inside Dragon.” The three astronauts on board the ISS have finished packing the Dragon capsule with experiments and hardware on January 9, NASA noted in a previous blog post, and are now back to their science and maintenance duties.

For instance, flight engineer David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency took part in the Vascular Echo study, which entailed “scanning his leg’s femoral artery with an ultrasound device to understand how living in space affects the cardiovascular system.”

At the same time, ISS commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos “explored ways to improve piloting techniques in space” via the Pilot-T Experiment and underwent a psychological assessment as part of the Kontent Experiment. In addition, the veteran cosmonaut maintained Russian life support systems aboard the orbital research facility.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, NASA and SpaceX are preparing for the upcoming test flight of the Crew Dragon. Due to take place next week, the unmanned launch of the astronaut-ferrying pod has been postponed until February, the Inquisitr reported earlier today.