A robotic SpaceX cargo craft will begin its journey home to Earth on Monday afternoon (Jan. 9), and you can watch the action live.
An uncrewed Dragon capsule is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station (ISS) Monday at 5:05 p.m. EST (2205 GMT), wrapping up a six-week stay in orbit. If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft will splash down off the coast of Florida on Wednesday (Jan. 11).
Watch Dragon’s departure live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency; coverage will begin at 4:45 p.m. EST (1945 GMT).
Related: Facts about the International Space Station
The Dragon launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 26, carrying about 7,700 pounds (3,500 kilograms) of cargo to the ISS. This gear included two new International Space Station Roll Out Solar Arrays (iROSAs), which NASA astronauts installed during two spacewalks last month.
The capsule also carried a variety of scientific experiments on this mission, known as CRS-26 because it was the 26th robotic resupply flight to the ISS flown by SpaceX. One investigation is growing dwarf cherry tomatoes on the orbiting lab to study off-Earth food production, for example, while another continues ongoing research with 3D-cultured heart tissue in microgravity (opens in new tab).
The CRS-26 Dragon will carry about 4,400 pounds (2,000 kg) of supplies and scientific gear back down to Earth with it, NASA officials said (opens in new tab).
This return capability is unique to Dragon. The other currently operational ISS resupply craft — Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus vehicle and Russia’s Progress — are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after they leave the orbiting lab.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).