Crew wraps up science packing after robotic arm grips Dragon

NASA photograph

Mexico, Baja California and the southern coast of the state of California are pictured as the International Space Station orbited above the Pacific Ocean. When the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft returns to Earth after completing its mission at the station it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles off the coast of southern California and Baja California.

The SpaceX Dragon space freighter was in the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm Jan. 8 as the Expedition 58 crew wraps up cargo transfers inside the vessel.

The space trio is also on lab duty conducting a variety of microgravity research aboard the International Space Station.

Overnight, robotics controllers remotely commanded the Canadarm2 to grapple Dragon before its release from the Harmony module. Meanwhile, the hatches are still open and Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques continue loading time-critical space experiments inside the U.S. cargo craft.

The crew will shut the hatch to Dragon Jan. 9 and disconnect power cables. Then robotics controllers will take over, uninstall Dragon from Harmony overnight and maneuver it into release position. McClain will be in the cupola Jan. 10 monitoring Dragon when it is released from the Canadarm2 around 4:35 a.m., EDT.

After its departure, Dragon will orbit Earth a few more hours before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. SpaceX personnel will retrieve Dragon and return it to port where NASA engineers will extract the precious cargo for immediate shipment to investigators around the country.