On Sunday morning, SpaceX confirmed that a Dragon cargo spacecraft had successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, after spending a month aboard the ISS. It was the 12th SpaceX mission to and from the space station.
From releasing the Dragon, to its touch down in open waters, it was an hours-long affair. The process started at 4:47 a.m. Eastern time, when ISS resident astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Randy Bresnik used the ISS’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the cargo ship.
NASA captured the action live on NASA TV, showing the Canadaarm2 give way from the Dragon high above Earth.
From there, three departure burns were used to move the Dragon far enough away from the station to allow SpaceX’s flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, to take over controls to commandeer its deorbit burn.
Five hours later, the Dragon’s parachutes were deployed, and it splashed down in the ocean. Unfortunately, NASA did not broadcast the Dragon’s watery landing.
Recovery forces were scheduled to retrieve the Dragon and its approximately 3,800 pounds of cargo. The space craft has brought back a multitude of science samples from the ISS, including human and animal research and biology and biotechnology studies. The ISS conducts research and science year-round, experimenting with the effects of gravity and time in space on various organisms, and using the space station to employ technology to learn more about space itself.
SpaceX continues to carve out and dominate a significant space for itself in the burgeoning business of space travel. Currently, Dragons are the only space station resupply spacecrafts that are able to return to Earth intact.
Up next for SpaceX is a Falcon 9 launch on October 2 from Kennedy Space Center. The rocket will send an SES-11 (also known as EchoStar 105, a hybrid communications satellite) into orbit.
Russia is planning to launch a Soyuz rocket carrying a cargo delivery ship to the ISS on October 12.
You can watch the Dragon’s exit from the ISS below: