A final Dragon 1 mission will be completed this week as the spacecraft will return to Earth. SpaceX has managed to run the CRS-20 mission without issues, fulfilling all the obligations that are mentioned within the CRS-1 contract.
That will allow the retirement of the cargo spacecraft as a new generation will be released soon for the Commercial Resupply Service (also known as CSR).
The NASA mission control office located at the Johnson Space Center will use the Space Station Remote Manipulator System to undock the spacecraft and prepare it for release. After the approval for publication is granted, the arm will disconnect from the spaceship and retract into a safe position.
Dragon 1 will use its powerful Draco engines for three strong burns that should push it away from the station, with the maneuvers being executed by NASA controllers.
The Last Dragon 1 Mission from SpaceX Will Be Done Soon
Once a critical distance from the International Space Station is reached, NASA will transfer the control to the SpaceX mission control, which is located within the company headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The controllers will initiate the steps needed for deorbit and atmosphere entrance.
With the closure of the Guidance, Navigation, and Control bay door, the thermal protection shield of the spacecraft will be sealed, and a deorbit burn will commence. The maneuver aims to lower the spacecraft into the atmosphere.
At this stage, the cargo trunk will be released and left to burn in the atmosphere while the thermal shield should protect the rest of the spacecraft by the extreme heat, which appears due to powerful friction.
The last step after the re-entry is represented by a splashdown that should take place in the Pacific Ocean, at a distance of approximately 815 kilometers from the beaches of Los Angeles. A nearby recovery SpaceX ship will collect the spacecraft and the small amount of cargo that is brought back to Earth.