SpaceX’s CRS-6 Dragon unberthed from the International Space Station (ISS) and was released from the grip of the Station’s “Big Arm” on Thursday. The resupply ship then completed homeward leg of her trouble-free orbital adventures, with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean expected less than six hours after parting ways with the orbital outpost.
The CRS-6 Dragon berthed with a total cargo mass of 2, 015 kilograms (4, 387 lb; 1, 898 kg or 4, 184 lb without packaging).
This included 500 kilograms (1, 102 lb) of items and provisions for the station’s crew, 518 kilograms (1, 142 lb) of station hardware and equipment, 16 kilograms (35 lb) of computer and electronic equipment and 23 kilograms (51 lb) of hardware for EVAs.
The remaining 844 kilograms (1, 860 lb) of the Dragon’s payload was taken up by scientific hardware and experiments, including critical materials to directly support about 40 of the more than 250 science and research investigations.
Also making the trip was a new espresso machine for space station crews and a new team of mousetronauts in the Rodent Research-2 payload.
Unlike all other operational Visiting Vehicles, Dragon will return a large amount of ISS cargo, with more than 3, 000 pounds of mass – including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, space station hardware and trash – heading back to Earth.
Preparations for Dragon’s return began with the translation of robotic assets.
This saw the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) stowed on the Mobile Base System (MBS) Power/Data Grapple Fixture (PDGF) 2 by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS), which then took a ride on the Mobile Transporter – known as a walk off – to Node 2 to grab hold of the Dragon.
Inside the Station, the crew completed the loading of Dragon’s downmass, before conducting a checkout of the COTS UHF Communication Unit (CUCU) Crew Command Panel (CCP) that the crew will use to communicate with the Dragon capsule while she is flying free in the vicinity of the station.
To kick off that homecoming, the long sequence of events – that will ultimately lead to Dragon safely bobbing up and down in the Pacific Ocean – saw the ISS crew initiate the unberthing of Dragon from the Node 2 Nadir CBM, via the release of 16 bolts around the CBM berthing collar on the ISS side, performed in four sets of four bolts to ensure even unloading on the CBM interface.
Dragon’s removal was commanded by Canadian Space Agency (CSA) ground controllers, working with the ISS Flight Control Room at the Johnson Space Center.
Society6 - Spacex Night Launch Stationery Cards by Ed Burczyk
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