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Dragon cargo ships return to Earth – Spaceflight Now



SpaceX's Dragon Cargo Capsule departs the International Space Station on Sunday. Credit: David Saint-Jacques / NASA / CSA

A SpaceX-owned commercial cargo ship injected into the Pacific west of Baja California late Sunday and completed a 39-day mission that delivered 2.8 tons of supplies, experiments, and vacation deals. the international space station and returned home with research materials and no longer required hardware.

The unilateral supply ship that was loaded with approx. 2 tons of gear and experiment samples, left the space station at. 18.33 EST (2333 GMT) Sunday with a groundbreaking release from the groundbreaking lab's 58 feet (17.7 meters) Canadian robotic arm. The dragon capsule fired its thrusters into a series of exits to fly away from the station's vicinity and set up for a deor bit firing at. 11:19. EST (0419 GMT) to slow down the vessel's speed enough to drop out of the circuit and re-enter Earth's atmosphere.

Shortly after the brake firing is completed, the spacecraft's spacecraft strikes its disposable trunk section, which is intended to burn up in atmosphere. The printed part of Dragon, meanwhile, killed back to Earth protected by a heat shield, then deployed a series of parachutes to slow down to splashdown in the Pacific southeast of Guadalupe Island, off the west coast of California's Baja California.

SpaceX confirmed a successful splashdown in a tweet at 9:12 PST Sunday (12:12 EST; 0512 GMT Monday), wrapping the company's 16th Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station since 2012.

NASA's contract with SpaceX is valued at $ 3.04 billion for 20 cargo visits to the space station from 2012 to next year. Another NASA contract guarantees SpaceX at least six additional resupply missions to the station through 2024, for an unspecified amount.

The Dragon cargo capsule was launched on December 5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and spacecraft completed an automated rendezvous with the space station on December 8 to deliver 5,673 pounds (2,573 kg) of provisions and trials.

The cargo delivery included 40 mice sent to the space station to study the effects of microgravity on the animal's immune systems, muscles and bones, information that scientists compare to the condition of a control group of mice held on the ground. Twenty of the mice were expected to return to the ground aboard the Dragon capsule on Sunday.

Also Delivered to the Onboard Space Station Dragon was a scientific study to grow protein crystals in microgravity to help scientists understand how an antioxidant protein helps protect the human body from oxidizing radiation. Researchers have also submitted experiments to study the causes of muscle abnormalities observed in spaceflight and to investigate carbon steel material corrosion in space.

In addition to the biological experiments stowed inside the Dragon's inner space, the spacecraft's rear cargo contained a pair of NASA payloads mounted outside the space station by the robot arm. One will demonstrate new tools and techniques that can lead to a future ability to revive satellites with cryogenic propellants in space, and another will scan the planet with a laser to measure the height, density, and structure of forest garden equipment, data that be able to tell researchers more about the role of the forest in the carbon cycle.

When the astronauts had finished unpacking the fresh supplies, they installed cooling samples and other equipment in Dragon Spacecraft to return to Earth.

The return of the dragon was scheduled for Thursday, but officials pushed back the departure due to bad weather in the splashdown zone in the Pacific. Leaders ultimately decided to target Drauge's return to another location further south in the Pacific to take advantage of quieter seas, shifting freight's departure and splashdown from Sunday morning to Sunday evening.

It was the second night blast of a Dragon spacecraft, after a return before dawn in July 2017. But much of the work of retrieving the capsule on this mission occurred during the daytime, a night restoration scheduled for Sunday through Monday.

SpaceX & # 39; s Dragon recovery team raises the canister on a boat for the trip back to the Los Angeles port, where crews will remove time-sensitive samples from Dragon to return to science laboratories around the country for analysis.

The Dragon Cap, who returned to Earth on Sunday evening, completed his second trip to space after a successful flight to the station in February 2017. SpaceX renovated the spacecraft for another launch, a practice the company has now followed for five of its shipping to the space station.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1

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