Pair of Space Freighters Packed for Departure

NASA and ESA Astronauts
(From left) Astronauts Barry Wilmore, Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts pose for a portrait inside the Destiny laboratory.

A pair of docked space freighters is being loaded in preparation for next month’s departure activities. The ISS Progress 57 (57P) resupply ship is being packed with trash and discarded gear for a fiery disposal over the Pacific Ocean. The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is being loaded with experiment samples, spacesuit gear and other hardware to be returned to Earth when the ship splashes down off the Pacific coast of Baja California.

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The International Space Station is getting ready for another round of Cubesat deployments from outside Japan’s Kibo lab module. Meanwhile, inside the station the six-member Expedition 42 crew worked a wide array of microgravity science, spacewalk preparations and ongoing maintenance, keeping their orbital home safe and sound.

Astronauts Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti worked in the Quest airlock readying tools for a trio of spacewalks set to begin in February. Those spacewalks will get the station wired and ready for two new spacecraft docking adapters to be installed later this year.

Dragon Splashes Down — SpaceX CRS-4 Ends

Dragon Departure
This series of images, captured by cameras on the International Space Station (ISS) show the departure from the station of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 3:39 p.m. EDT a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico, marking the end of the company’s fourth contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is returning 3,276 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from the International Space Station. A boat will take the Dragon spacecraft to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA within 48 hours. Dragon will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.

The mission was the fourth of 12 cargo resupply trips SpaceX will make to the space station through 2016 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

› More information from SpaceX