SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: Image courtesy of NASA)

Mar. 24, 2013 — More than three weeks after arriving at the International Space Station, the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft is ready for the trip back to Earth, now scheduled for Tuesday, March 26.

Dragon's originally scheduled March 25 return date was postponed due to inclement weather developing near its targeted splashdown site in the Pacific Ocean. The additional day spent attached to the orbiting laboratory will not affect science samples scheduled to return aboard the spacecraft.

NASA Television will provide coverage of Dragon's departure beginning at 4 a.m. EDT.

Dragon is scheduled to be detached from the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony module and unberthed by Expedition 35 Flight Engineer and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn. Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency will back-up Marshburn and monitor Dragon's systems during the activity.

Marshburn, working from the robotic work station in the space station's cupola, will maneuver the station's robotic arm for the release of the spacecraft at 7:06 a.m. Dragon will execute three thruster firings to move away from the station to a safe distance for its deorbit burn at 11:40 a.m. Dragon will splash down around 12:36 p.m. in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California.

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