SpaceX Dragon Capsule Returning to Earth Stuffed with NASA Science Gear

A SpaceX Dragon capsule bid farewell to the Worldwide House Station Monday (Aug. 27) to return over a ton of science experiments and different gear to Earth. 

The spacecraft left the house station this morning at 10:59 a.m. EDT (1459 GMT), manipulated by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and supported by NASA astronaut Christina Koch. The capsule then started its almost 6-hour journey dwelling; Dragon is anticipated to splash down within the Pacific Ocean round 4:21 p.m. EDT (2021 GMT).

“We’re very appreciative of a profitable Dragon mission,” Koch radioed from the station to Mission Management in Houston because the spacecraft departed. “We have been glad to conduct all the wonderful science as part of this mission and we sit up for extra sooner or later.” 

Associated: In Pictures: SpaceX’s Superb CRS-18 Dragon Flight for NASA!

Dragon is carrying almost 2,700 lbs. (1,225 kilograms) of experimental supplies and different cargo from the house station that NASA workers and scientists need to have the ability to analyze. Dragon, not like some cargo automobiles, doesn’t dissipate on reentry and so is finest suited to ferrying materials that wants examination, not disposal.

SpaceX is concentrating on a splashdown zone about 300 miles (483 kilometers) southwest of Lengthy Seaside, California, the place a restoration ship is anticipated to retrieve the capsule from the ocean. The Hawthorne, California-based firm will return the capsule to shore and ship NASA’s provides to their remaining locations.

This specific Dragon capsule is wrapping up its record-setting third flight to and from the house station. When this spacecraft launched, on July 25, the capsule was full of greater than 5,000 lbs. (2,268 kg) of provides and gear, with about half of that mass devoted to science gear. That haul included a brand new docking port, referred to as the Worldwide Docking Adapter-3, or IDA-3, which astronauts put in on the station throughout a spacewalk final week.

Packed among the many baggage returning on Dragon is footage for “The ISS Expertise,” a digital actuality movie created over the course of a yr onboard the house station, with astronauts filming lower than Four hours of footage every week. The movie is supposed to present individuals a way of what life is like on the house station.

A small robotic, referred to as the Crew Interactive Cell Companion (CIMON), can be hitching a journey again to Earth after months of synthetic intelligence experiments to check its use as an astronaut companion. 

Additionally onboard are supplies from a spread of science experiments, together with protein-growth assessments carried out to analyze whether or not ailments like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may threaten astronauts, an experiment testing whether or not microbes may assist mine supplies in microgravity, {hardware} from two bowling-ball-size spheres that have been used to check fluid habits in orbit and greater than half a dozen different initiatives. You’ll be able to see NASA’s full record right here of the experiments returning to Earth on Dragon. 

Dragon’s mission, referred to as CRS-18, is the eighteenth SpaceX supply mission for NASA below a business cargo contract. NASA has relied on business SpaceX Dragons and Northrop Grumman Cygnus automobiles for almost a decade to maintain the station stocked with provides. 

The subsequent Dragon run to the house station is scheduled to launch on Dec. Four on a Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX additionally has a contract to fly NASA astronauts to and from the station utilizing its new Crew Dragon spacecraft. That automobile made its first unpiloted check flight earlier this yr in March. NASA can even use Boeing Starliner capsules for these business crew flights. 

E-mail Meghan Bartels at mbartels@house.com or comply with her @meghanbartels. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.

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