SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth with station science, gear

A commercial cargo ship, operated by private United States space firm SpaceX, left the International Space Station on Friday morning, carrying back more than a ton of cargo and science samples, including 12 mice.

Astronauts at the International Space Station used the big robot arm to release the capsule Friday morning. The capsule is returning with about 3,000 pounds of cargo and experiments for researchers and investigators. The unmanned space capsule is expected to arrive on Earth 11: 47 am at the Pacific ocean near California or Mexico.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship was launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United States on July 18.

Besides its scientific mission, the space capsule was also sent for SpaceX’s and Boeing’s commercial purposes “to begin crew delivery services in a year or two, a task that’s now handled by the Russian space agency”, according to Lonnie Shehtman of The Christian Science Monitor.

They will leave the space station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and head back to Earth after a five-and-a-half-month stay.

Dragon also delivered a very important piece of hardware: the first of two worldwide docking adapters (IDAs), which will let future spacecraft dock directly with the USA segment of the space station. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. Everyone else’s cargo ships are filled with trash at mission’s end and burn up on re-entry.

Blood and urine samples collected from the space station astronauts were stored in freezers plugged in inside the Dragon capsule, and 12 mice from an experiment sponsored by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency also returned Friday. Now that the animals have returned, researchers plan to analyze DNA from the mice’s organs, as well as DNA of the spacefaring animals’ offspring. Mission Control thanked the astronauts for their effort, then added, “To the Dragon recovery team, fair winds and following seas”. The descent and splashdown will not be broadcast live. Dragon will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.

SpaceX’s CRS-9 mission arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on July 20 carrying 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) of supplies, equipment, and science experiments, along with the first of two new docking adapters that will be used by future commercial spacecraft now under development.