A Dragon returns to Earth (Updated: Splashdown)

NASA and SpaceX have decided on a time for the latter's Dragon commercial space capsule to return to our planet. Once again you'll be able to watch it live, but this time you may actually be able to sleep in. UPDATE: Dragon successfully splashed down at 11:42 A.M. PDT. See more here.

From NASA:

In reverse order of how Dragon was captured and berthed Friday, the crew will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the vehicle from the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony node at 4:05 a.m., move it away from the station and release it at 5:35 a.m. for return to Earth. The SpaceX team in Hawthorne, Calif., will run Dragon through about five hours of orbital operations before commanding it to a splashdown for recovery off the California coast.

So, it sounds like you can expect to tune into NASA TV around noon EDT if you want to catch Dragon's return. While a return and splashdown isn't always as exciting as a launch (you know, when there's fire and smoke), there should be plenty of running commentary to round it out covering the mission, descent and the capsule recovery operation.

After a successful launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket on May 22, Dragon was berthed at the ISS — meaning the Canadarm2 pulled it in rather than Dragon docking itself — on May 25. Since then, the crew manning the ISS unloaded "1,014 pounds of non-critical cargo," taking the picture below of the interior as they did so. Floating is Euopean Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers:

SpaceX-berth-ISS-02.jpg

NASA, via Universe Today

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