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Elsa Delays SpaceX Cargo Capsule Return Packed With Science, Supplies

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station on June 5, 2021. Photo: NASA
The SpaceX Cargo Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station on June 5, 2021. Photo: NASA

Elsa is delaying the return of a space capsule packed with science experiments from the International Space Station.

SpaceX is now targeting no earlier than tomorrow for the capsule’s return. NASA and SpaceX will review the weather later today before making a final decision.

The next opportunity for undocking is July 8 at 10:35 a.m. EDT, with additional opportunities on July 9 and 10.

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon capsule launched to the station last month and was set to return to Earth this week, but weather off the coast of Florida is forcing SpaceX to wait a few days.

The capsule is packed with about 5,000 pounds of cargo and research set to return to Earth. But the extreme weather from the storm system is forcing mission managers to hold off.

SpaceX has multiple splashdown sites off both the Gulf and Atlantic coast of Florida. Certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights must be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft.

Once it does splash down, SpaceX’s recovery boats will scoop the capsule out of the water and bring it back to Kennedy Space Center for processing. Scientists could get their hands on their returning experiments in just a few hours after splashdown.

The crew on board the station has been preparing the vehicle for its departure. NASA Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Shane Kimbrough worked on cargo transfers inside the Dragon yesterday and joined the rest of the crew for a safety review of the Dragon's departure.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."