Weather delays return of SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to Earth

25 Mar 2013

The Dragon spacecraft latches onto the International Space Station. Photo by Cmdr Chris Hadfield/NASA

Inclement weather has delayed the return of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to Earth by one day. Dragon, which will be bringing back cargo from the International Space Station (ISS), is now due to splash down into the Pacific Ocean tomorrow.

Dragon arrived at the ISS three weeks ago, bringing supplies to the crew aboard the orbiting outpost.

Flight engineer and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, with backup from Cmdr Chris Hadfield, will detach Dragon from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module tomorrow morning, NASA said.

Dragon will splash into the Pacific Ocean west of Baja, California, at about 12.36pm PST (8.36pm GMT).

The vessel is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, NASA said. It will bring back about 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms) of science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.

Samples from experiments returning to Earth will help researchers study the impact of long-duration spaceflight on the human body.

Returning plant samples will help in food production during future long-duration space missions, as well as enhance crop production on Earth.

Crystals grown aboard and returning from the station could help in the development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics, NASA said.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic