NASA will broadcast live coverage of SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft’s undocking and departure from the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday, April 15. Dragon will depart from the station’s Harmony module’s forward port at 11:05 a.m. and fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station. The spacecraft will make a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida, carrying back approximately 4,300 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments to Earth.
NASA’s Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will receive the experiments after the spacecraft splashes down off the coast of Florida. Researchers will collect data with minimal sample exposure to Earth’s gravity. NASA will not broadcast the splashdown, but updates will be posted on the agency’s space station blog.
The space tomato harvest samples from the Pick-and-Eat Salad-Crop Productivity, Nutritional Value, and Acceptability to Supplement the International Space Station Food System (Veg-05) experiment will be returning to Earth for analysis. The experiment was designed to grow plants in space for fresh food, providing improved living conditions for astronauts on long-duration missions. The hardware could also be used on Earth to provide fresh produce for those without access to gardens and as horticultural therapy for older people and people with disabilities.
Dragon is also carrying the Hicari investigation from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), which tested a growth method and produced crystals of a silicon-germanium (SiGe) semiconductor using the Japanese Experiment Module-Gradient Heating Furnace (JEM-GHF). The space-produced crystals are returning to Earth for analysis and could support the development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.
The Vascular Aging investigation from CSA (Canadian Space Agency) monitored changes in astronauts’ arterial stiffness and thickening after six months in space. Results could help identify and assess risks to astronaut cardiovascular health and point to mechanisms for reducing that risk. Blood samples collected for the investigation are returning to Earth for analysis. The investigation could also provide insight to guide prevention and treatment for the aging population on Earth.
The Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction – Growth and Extinction Limit (SoFIE-Gel) investigation studied burning in microgravity, including how fuel temperature affects material flammability. The investigation could improve the safety of crew members on future missions by increasing understanding of early fire growth behavior, informing selection of fire-resistant spacecraft cabin materials, validating flammability models, and helping to determine optimal fire suppression techniques.
Dragon delivered more than 6,000 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and station hardware for NASA as part of SpaceX’s 27th Commercial Resupply Services mission. It was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy on March 14, 2023.
NASA’s live coverage of Dragon’s undocking and departure will start at 10:45 a.m. EDT on NASA Television, the NASA app, and online at https://www.nasa.gov/live.