SpaceX Cargo Dragon to splashdown near Tampa Bay Wednesday evening

Updated: Jan. 13, 2021 at 10:23 AM EST
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TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) - The SpaceX Cargo Dragon undocked from the space station Tuesday morning, a slight delay from the planned separation on Monday. The delay means splashdown, usually in the Atlantic, has been changed to the Gulf of Mexico, west of Tampa Bay.

In the landing last August, boaters came too close to the splashdown site. For tomorrow night’s landing the coast guard is advising boaters to keep a safe distance from the splashdown.

Captain Mark Vluan from the U.S. Coast Guard, offered advice to boaters, “The USCG partners with NASA, the FAA and the 45th space wing of the U.S. Space Force to establish safety and security zones and other limited access zones to ensure safety, security and environmental protection of the marine environment. This is an exciting time for the space program and we understand that people want to view launch and recovery operations. But we ask for the support of the public in understanding that the maritime portions of these operations necessarily involve a host of chemicals, fuels and explosives that have to be safeguarded with the utmost professionalism and caution.”

Splashdown is schedule around 8:27 p.m. Wednesday night. The capsule is carrying a payload of science research gear and experiments on low gravity effects on mice and human heart tissues. It is also carrying 12 bottles of wine and hundreds of vines -grown in space - that will now be planted to make merlot and cabernet savignon, down here on earth.

The U.S. Coast Guard will activate a two-nautical mile safety zone around the splashdown site today. The safety zone will be activated three hours before splashdown.

Any boats entering the safety zone will be asked to leave until recovery operations are completed. The purpose of the zone is to protect recovery personal, vessels and the marine environment from potential hazards related to capsule re-entry and recovery. Vessels that remain in the safety zone could face fines ranging from $94,219 to $250,000, or 6 years in jail, or both.

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