The SpaceX Cargo Dragon arrived just in time to deliver holiday treats, crew supplies and new science experiments to the Expedition 66 crew today. NASA Flight Engineers Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn were on duty Wednesday morning monitoring Dragon’s automated approach and docking to the Harmony module’s space-facing port that occurred at 3:41 a.m. EST.
Less than two hours later, Dragon’s hatch was opened as Chari and NASA Flight Engineer Kayla Barron entered the vehicle and began unloading critical research hardware and samples.
Astronauts Mark Vande Hei of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA (European Space Agency) also joined in the cargo activities beginning to unpack crew supplies, spacewalk gear, station hardware, and computer equipment to replenish the orbiting lab. Vande Hei also started setting up a new cancer study, delivered aboard Dragon, that could improve drug delivery methods as well as manufacturing processes. Dragon will stay at the station for one month before returning to Earth loaded with station hardware and completed microgravity research for analysis by engineers and scientists.
Over in the station’s Russian segment, the Progress propulsion module that delivered the Prichal docking port and attached it to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module on Nov. 26 is due to leave today. It will undock from Prichal at 6:03 p.m. and reenter the Earth’s atmosphere several hours later for a fiery, but safe destruction above the south Pacific Ocean. Cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will be observing the Progress when it undocks and photographing its departure from the station. NASA TV will not provide live coverage of Progress’ departure.
The space station blog is taking a short break until Monday, Dec. 27, as the station’s five astronauts and two cosmonauts spend the holidays orbiting above Earth.
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