SpaceX's Dragon Endurance Soaring Over Wyoming Early Tuesday Morning

The SpaceX spacecraft carrying four astronauts will be visible in the Wyoming skies between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. The crew is heading home after six months aboard the International Space Station.

March 12, 20243 min read

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At approximately 2:30 a.m. MST, four astronauts riding a dragon soar over Wyoming after an important mission in outer space. They’ll be that tiny dot of light moving faster than the thousands of other tiny dots of light in the Cowboy State’s pristine night skies.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, SpaceX's Dragon Endurance spacecraft will reenter Earth’s atmosphere, splashing down off the Gulf Coast of Florida at 5:30 a.m. EST. The spacecraft is carrying NASA’s Crew-7 Mission after over six months aboard the International Space Station.

Mission Space

The Dragon Endurance launched on Aug. 23, 2023, carrying four astronauts: NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov.

The spacecraft needed to accelerate to over 17,500 mph to dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

According to NASA, Crew-7 planned to conduct over 200 experiments during their stay on the ISS. The primary focus was scientific research “to prepare for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit and benefit humanity on Earth.”

The Crew-7 Mission was not just about space travel, but about pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge. The crew was set to conduct a range of unique experiments, including the collection of microbial samples from the exterior of the space station, the first-ever study of human response to different spaceflight durations, and an investigation into the physiological aspects of astronauts’ sleep.

Now at the end of their mission, Crew-7 will welcome the next group of astronauts, Crew-8, before autonomously undocking and departing from ISS and re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. After splashdown off Florida’s coast, a SpaceX recovery vessel will pick up the Dragon Endurance and the crew.

Astro-Naught

Skyrockets may be in flight, but its far from an afternoon delight. Anyone who wants to witness the celestial event will need to gaze skyward between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m.

For those who want to wave at the wandering astronauts, they shouldn’t have anything blocking their view as the weather seems to be cooperating.

The best spots in the Cowboy State to watch (look at the map) are in the eastern half of Wyoming from Newcastle all the way down to Cheyenne and Pine Bluffs.

However, you've got a shot as far west as Casper and Rawlins and all points in between.

The moon, meanwhile, is in its waxing crescent phase. That means it’s only 2% eliminated, so there’s no moonlight to contend with.

However, spotting a solitary spacecraft in Wyoming's night skies can be difficult, even for experienced stargazers. Wyoming has some of the best night skies in the nation, including Sinks Canyon near Lander, the state’s first Dark Sky Park.

Also, the rocket’s trajectory means it will appear differently in different parts of the Cowboy State.

A wayward Wheatland watcher might (MIGHT) see the Dragon Endurance cruising through the sky between 10 and 20 degrees above the horizon. A sharp-eyed Cheyenne observer could get a better glimpse as the rocket soars between 45 and 90 degrees above the horizon.

Sorry, Wamsutter, you're not in range to see the Dragon. As is nearly all of central and western Wyoming.

But anyone who's awake in Wamsutter or elsewhere and wants to watch can more easily enjoy the Dragon Endurance's touchdown by watching NASA’s live stream of the spacecraft as it lands in the Gulf of Mexico. At least NASA should know where to point the camera.

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