Sunday, May 6, 2018

Dragon Splashes Down in Pacific With NASA Research and Cargo

Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev tweeted this image of the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship shortly after it was released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm today. Credit: @OlegMKS

Following release from the International Space Station by ground controllers at 9:23 a.m. EDT, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at about 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. This marks the end of the company’s 14th contracted cargo resupply mission to the space station for NASA.

A boat has taken the Dragon to the port at Long Beach, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA. Dragon will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.

Dragon is returning more than 4,000 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from a variety of technological and biological studies about the space station. Some of the science returning on this flight includes samples from the Metabolic Tracking study that could lead to more effective, less expensive drugs, the APEX-06 investigation examining how to effectively grow crops in space, and the Fruit Fly Lab–03 investigation to research disease genes and immunity to help prepare for future long-duration human space exploration missions.

NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. National Laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.

Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft currently capable of returning cargo to Earth, and this was the second trip to the orbiting laboratory for this spacecraft, which completed its first mission nearly two years ago. SpaceX launched its 14th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station April 2 from Space Launch Complex 40 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket that also previously launched its 12th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station.

Credit: NASA

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