After delivering more than two tons of supplies and research to the International Space Station that will help prepare NASA astronauts and robotic explorers for future missions to Mars, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is set to leave the orbital laboratory on Thursday, May 21. NASA Television will provide live coverage of Dragon’s departure beginning at 6:45 a.m. EDT.

The Dragon capsule, which arrived at the station April 17, will be detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module using the Canadarm 2 robotic arm, operated by ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA’s Mission Control Center will maneuver Dragon into place and Expedition 43 robotic arm operator Scott Kelly of NASA will give the command for its 7:04 a.m. release.

The Dragon will fire its thrusters three times to move to a safe distance from the station for its deorbit burn at approximately 11:49 a.m. The capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean at about 12:42 p.m. with more than 3,100 pounds of cargo. This will include science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station.

The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched April 14 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for the company’s sixth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station.

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