SpaceX’s Dragon is back home. Let us see what it has brought back on the Earth.
Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations. Currently Dragon carries cargo to space, but it was intended from the start to carry humans. It made a record by becoming the only vessel to travel to and from the International Space Station and can provide heavy amounts of cargo to Earth.
SpaceX is an American private space transportation company based in Hawthorne, California.
The unmanned spacecraft was released from the ISS at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT).
It returned to the Earth on Saturday with 3,276 pounds of cargo and science samples from ISS at 3:39pm EDT in the Pacific Ocean about 300 miles west of Baja, California. The cargo and science samples will be returned to NASA.
The cargo contained food, clothing, 20 live lab mice and equipment such as a 3D printer and new EMU batteries. The 3D printer is utilized to exhibit the use of technology is space when there is no gravity.
“This mission enabled research critical to achieving NASA’s goal of long-duration human spaceflight in deep space,” commented Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station division at NASA Headquarters.
“The delivery of the ISS RapidScatterometer advances our understanding of Earth science, and the 3-D printer will enable a critical technology demonstration. Investigations in the returned cargo could aid in the development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics, the development of plants better suited for space, and improvements in sustainable agriculture.”
SpaceX is designated to accomplish a total of 12 resupply missions to the ISS, by 2016 under a $1.6 billion contract. This mission marked an end to SpaceX’s fourth delivery mission.
“Dragon is free,” mission commentator Rob Navias said during a NASA broadcast.
Dragon after spending a month at the space station will be travelling back for processing later to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas.