TAMPA, Fla — A spacecraft with more than 4,000 pounds of science experiments is returning from the International Space Station. It’s even more exciting that it’s going to splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico just west of Tampa!
But, don’t get too excited and head to the beach as NASA says it’s unlikely to be seen from our shorelines.
The spacecraft is the SpaceX Cargo Dragon 2. NASA told 10 Tampa Bay that the undisclosed splashdown area will probably be more than a hundred miles offshore.
On top of that, the de-orbit burn to begin the re-entry sequence into Earth’s atmosphere will take place over the Indian Ocean, well prior to nearing the Tampa Bay area. Even if the de-orbit burn was visible, the heavy cloud cover would spoil the view.
There is also no lighting on the cargo Dragon, making distant viewing nearly impossible.
The Dragon 2 is expected to splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico just west of Tampa at about 8:27 p.m. The splashdown will not be broadcast, so we will all just have to wait for the exciting pictures and video to follow.
SpaceX recovery teams will be on standby for the parachute-assisted splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.
The SpaceX team will unload time-critical science specimens and put them on a helicopter for a flight to the Kennedy Space Center. The remaining cargo will be transported by truck, according to NASA.
Tampa gets to be a part of Florida space history as this is the first undocking and splashdown of a Cargo Dragon spacecraft in Florida. The previous recovery zones have been in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California.
But by splashing down in Florida, SpaceX and NASA will be able to recover the spacecraft faster than before to return the experiments to scientists with minimal loss of the effects of microgravity.
NASA says this is the first time that science experiments will return from the ISS through NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida since the retirement of the space shuttle program.
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