“Press This” has eaten my post twice, so let’s hope for third time lucky.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule was undocked and released from the International Space Station early this morning. The de-orbit burn should happen at 10:51 a.m. Eastern time, and the capsule should splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 11:44 a.m., about 490 nautical miles southwest of Los Angeles. A news briefing will be held jointly from Johnson and SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif., at 2 p.m. live on NASA TV.
After retrieval, the capsule will be brought to McGregor, Texas for unloading and inspection. Dragon is different from other resupply vehicles, such as the Russian Progress, which are allowed to burn up on re-entry. Dragon has a heatshield made of PICA-X, which is a variant of the Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator used successfully on the Stardust mission. I’m hoping everything goes as well with this mission as it did for the first demo mission back in December 2010, where the heatshield worked well, and the capsule landed on target.
I’ll update with a splashdown pic later today.