SpaceX Spacecraft delayed in undocking by NASA due to tropical storm ELSA

It is an unusual event that NASA seems to change the positions, date, and time of the takeoffs and landings of its spacecraft. Due to Tropical Storm Elsa the SpaceX spacecraft, Cargo Dragon was delayed to undock from the ISS no earlier than Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Elsa was viewed from the International Space Station on Sunday, July 4, 2021, by an image shared by astronaut Megan McArthur. (NASA)

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft was to liftoff in the Atlantic Ocean Thursday but as  Elsa storm continues agitating toward Florida, the flight control teams are monitoring conditions and said that the storm may influence recovery measures at sea.

When did the SpaceX spacecraft set to undock?

The spacecraft was set to undock on Tuesday at 11 a.m. by the International space station but the NASA team declared its safe undock had been pushed to no earlier than Wednesday due to the extreme weather conditions off Florida’s coast.

When it does happen, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough will look after the spacecraft as it departs from the Harmony module’s space-facing port.

What does the spacecraft carry?

The Cargo Dragon spacecraft arrived at the ISS on June 4. It was loaded with experimental equipment carrying 7,300 pounds of hardware, experiments, and supplies. These were all required for the relevant experiment and research. The spacecraft has to conduct its experiments and is set to return this week to Earth after completing its mission aboard the orbiting laboratory. 

NASA may shift the undocking of SpaceX spacecraft

The SpaceX ship will have to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean but it depends on the current situation as if conditions change and the situation goes worse due to the tropical storm Elsa, the undocking could be influenced. As Tropical Storm Elsa continues on its current track with parts of Florida. NASA officials announced that undocking and splashdown could again shift if needed. 

Virtual reports on Elsa

NASA Astronaut Megan McArthur shared pictures of Tropical Storm Elsa from the International space station over the weekend as the storm found its way toward Cuba.

The updated pictures of Elsa show the storm making landfall on Florida’s west coast, whirling to the Atlantic Ocean recovery area for SpaceX teams to collect the spacecraft. The movement of control teams continuously awaiting the latest updates from the international space station

Role of flight control teams

“Flight control teams continuously monitor the weather and splashdown locations. Keeping an eye on certain parameters like wind speeds and wave heights. These should be within certain limits to ensure the safety of the recovery teams, the science, and the spacecraft,” a NASA spokesperson with Johnson Space Center said via email.

Researches from ISS

Dragon is carrying research from the ISS  Some of the research returning to Earth was about an experiment on how gravity affects freeze-dried materials and equipment which could further have impacts on pharmaceutical industries. 

Moreover, another experiment examining oral bacteria in space and a test with muscle cells are also set to return.

What will happen if the departure delays for the SpaceX spacecraft, Cargo dragon?

If the Cargo dragon is set to delay, the splashdown will get the capsule to be brought back to Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility where the experiments will be handed off to researchers. 

If  Elsa’s path shifts towards the east and starts creating worse conditions for recovery teams, NASA declares that there are additional undocking opportunities available. Cooling materials for experiments can be changed out if the departure is delayed. The landing of spacecraft cargo would be safe after the delaying decision by NASA. It is one of its conscious efforts that could further benefit the research and experiences. 

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