SpaceX Cargo Dragon launch called off: NASA confirm ISS delay – but why?

NASA: International Space Station captured passing the sun

The SpaceX cutting-edge Cargo Dragon space transporter was scheduled to undock from the ISS this afternoon – 3pm GMT (10am EST). However, US-based space agency NASA has confirmed on social media the procedure has been postponed.

The International Space Station tweeted at 3pm GMT: “Mission controllers have called off today’s @SpaceX #CargoDragon undocking due to weather conditions at the splashdown site off the coast of Florida.”

NASA added in a statement: “Teams are currently assessing weather conditions to determine the next opportunity for undocking.”

However, as with similar delays – weather permitting – tomorrow, Tuesday, January 12, will likely see a renewed attempt at returning the ISS cargo to Earth.

NASA wrote in a later tweet this afternoon: “A new undocking date and time is currently being evaluated.”

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Undocking was initially delayed for approximately 30 minutes while ISS managers monitored weather at the splashdown zone in the Atlantic coast of Florida.

The event was due to see NASA astronaut Victor Glover responsible for monitoring the undocking activities.

NASA revealed in a previous post how the coast of Florida was selected as the splashdown location for reasons of convenience.

The space agency wrote: “ … it [Florida ] enables quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers as soon as four to nine hours after splashdown.

“This shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.

“Previous Cargo Dragon spacecraft returned to the Pacific Ocean, with quick-return science cargo processed at SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas, and delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.”

When the event finally does occur, the undocking will commence with the SpaceX Crew Dragon firing thrusters to separate safely from the orbiting space station.

The renovated SpaceX craft will then proceed to initiate a deorbit burn to begin the re-entry sequence.

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Cargo Dragon will then deploy parachutes to rapidly-slow its descent to the Atlantic.

The Dragon launched almost exactly a month ago from NASA’s iconic Kennedy Space Center.

The significantly-redesigned cargo capsule then embarked on a 24-hour journey to the ISS.

Crew Dragon supplied more than three tons of vital hardware and supplies on its arrival.

Among many other experiments, the SpaceX Crew Dragon will be returning a cardinal heart used to study the effects of microgravity on human organs.

NASA TV January 2021 ISS highlights:

January 14: International Space Station spacewalks #69 and 70 preview briefing.

January 15: International Space Station Expedition 64 In-Flight Event with Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Joshua Dobbs and Pre-Recorded Questions from Pittsburgh Area Students and NASA astronaut Victor Glover.

International Space Station Expedition 64 In-Flight Event with CNBC’s Shepard Smith and NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Mike Hopkins.

January 19: Coverage of International Space Station Expedition 64 spacewalk #69 (Columbus upgrades spacewalk; Hopkins and Glover); spacewalk scheduled to begin at 12.05pm GMT (7.05 am EST)

January 25: Coverage of International Space Station Expedition 64 spacewalk #70 (station upgrades II spacewalk; Hopkins and Glover) spacewalk scheduled to begin at 12.05pm GMT (7.05am EST).

January 28: Expedition 64 in-fight event for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi with interpretation.

International Space Station Expedition 64 spacewalks #71 and 72 preview briefing.

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