SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft spent 37 days at the International Space Station as part of its mission to deliver an international docking adapter — a new parking space to the ISS, basically — before departing for Earth this morning.
Here’s Dragon leaving the ISS, some 220 miles from the surface of Earth, at 6:10 a.m. Eastern:
And here is Dragon descending into Pacific ocean, south of Baja, California, slowed by a two parachutes. It splashed down at 11:47 a.m.:
And this afternoon, SpaceX’s publicity department snapped this photo of the capsule on a recovery ship:
So what’s next for the capsule? SpaceX lugged the vehicle back to a port near Los Angeles where its cargo will be removed and sent to NASA. That research cargo includes cardiac cells that will teach us how microgravity affects the human heart, given that prior studies show how deep-space missions — like those being planned for Mars — could create muscle atrophy in cardiac tissue. Also coming back to Earth are the results of investigations on rodents in a low-Earth environment and samples of gut microbes (for astronaut health management).
From L.A., Dragon will travel to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, (where we’ll probably see another photo soon).