Video Shows SpaceX Dragon Capsule and ISS Blissfully Orbiting the Earth

Over 200 miles above the Earth’s surface, the International Space Station is hosting some of science’s most groundbreaking experiments. David Saint-Jacques, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut and one of the three people currently working at the station, shared video footage over the weekend that shows the impressive view out of the station’s cupola.

The video, shared by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, shows the Dragon capsule docked to the station, overlooking the Earth as the ground whizzes past underneath. This capsule was launched on December 6 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying 5,600 pounds of cargo. The footage came just hours before the capsule started its return to Earth, as it was released from the station at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, with a successful splashdown around five hours later at 12:05 a.m. completing SpaceX’s fourth resupply trip to and from the space station.

See more: Elon Musk Shares Incredible Photos of SpaceX Falcon 9 After Historic Launch

The Dragon was used to carry a tool that could help unlock the next stage of space exploration. It includes the Robotic Refueling Mission 3, aimed at testing ways to store and move cryogenic fluids like liquid oxygen. The first two missions looked at using robots to remove valves in microgravity, but this third iteration is the first demonstration of the long-term storage of these fluids. Cryogenic fluids could help power spacecraft destined for a manned mission to Mars, as astronauts may be able to set up propellant plants on the planet to return home.

While this Dragon was used for cargo, future iterations are expected to send humans to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX is planning to test its crew Dragon design with an uncrewed test launch no earlier than February, followed by an in-flight abort test to demonstrate the capsule’s safety features, before a crewed test launch in June 2019. This, alongside Boeing’s CST-100, could return astronaut launches back to American soil after NASA switched to using Russia’s Soyuz rockets after the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Expect more details about the crew Dragon as the uncrewed test date approaches.

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Media via SpaceX (1, 2)