ADragon load ship loaded with 4,100 pounds of examination samples, rabble and no-longer-needed apparatus over the International Space Station early Saturday and returned to Earth. It splashed down in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California to close out a 29-day stay in orbit.
The programmed Dragon plug was isolated from the Earth-facing pier of the station’s brazen Harmony procedure Friday and expelled by the lab’s robot arm at 4:58 a.m. ET Saturday. After moving a protected stretch away, the spacecraft’s thrusters fired at 9:43 a.m., obscure the distant side of the circuit low into the atmosphere.
After fast the blazing feverishness of re-entry, the Dragon’s parachutes unfurled and the upholder staid to on on-target splashdown west of Baja at 10:37 a.m. It was the capsule’s second moody to and from the hire and SpaceX’s 13th operational resupply moody overall.
A SpaceX liberation organisation was hire by in the alighting territory to collect the load qualification and transport it back to Long Beach, Calif., where high-priority scholarship samples will be private and delivered to researchers. The Dragon then will be shipped to SpaceX’s McGregor, Texas, test trickery for final processing.
Launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 15, the Dragon carried 1,000 pounds of organisation reserve to the hire and scarcely 2,900 pounds of scholarship material, spacewalk equipment, space hire hardware and mechanism components.
Mounted in an unpressurized “trunk” territory were two outmost scholarship packages, one to magnitude how much solar deviation Earth receives and another to help impersonate the space waste environment.
After it was trustworthy to Harmony, the hire organisation unpacked the load and transposed it with rabble and other no-longer-needed gear, along with high-priority biological examination samples including a collection of live mice used to test a new drug delivery device.
Fiber ocular filaments constructed in the microgravity sourroundings also were on board, along with a accumulation of other examination results.
Supplies and apparatus are delivered to the space hire by Russian Progress load ships, Japanese HTV vehicles, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus plug and the SpaceX Dragon. But only the Dragon is designed to tarry re-entry and lift element back to Earth.
SpaceX binds contacts valued at some-more than $2 billion for 20 space hire resupply flights — this was no. 13 — and a successive agreement covering another 6 load missions. SpaceX is building a piloted chronicle of its Dragon plug to packet astronauts to and from the hire under a apart $2.6 billion contract.
The company plans 3 some-more load delivery missions this year with the next NASA launch on daub Apr 2.
SpaceX plans a accumulation of blurb flights before then, along with the lass launch of the company’s absolute new Falcon Heavy booster, done up of 3 strapped-together Falcon 9 core stages, with a total 27 engines, and a single-engine top stage.
When it takes off on its lass moody after this month, the Falcon Heavy will be the many absolute rocket in the world, generating some 5.1 million pounds of bearing at liftoff. The Heavy is now at pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center undergoing tests before an initial engine test banishment as early as Monday.