Mar 20, 2017 08:55 AM EDT
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Returns Home, Spectacular Scene Caught On Camera
The SpaceX Dragon supply capsule returns to Earth after its 10th mission from the International Space Station (ISS).
On Sunday, the SpaceX Dragon ended a 1-month mission to the ISS. The 12-foot-wide unmanned spaceship survived up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit during re-entry. Luckily, its ablative heat shield did not break into pieces before even landing on the Earth's surface.
SpaceX Dragon: Time & place of arrival
"Good splashdown of Dragon confirmed, carrying @NASA science and research cargo back from the @Space_Station," SpaceX tweeted. The capsule was expected to hit the Pacific Ocean about 200 miles southwest of Long Beach, California. It dropped around 10:46 a.m. EDT (7:46 a.m. PDT).
Meanwhile, the spectacular scene was caught on camera as one SpaceX recovery crew waited for it on the exact location of "landing." According to Space Flight Now, two drogue parachutes deployed to stabilize the free fall. Eventually, three iconic orange and white parachutes were released to minimize the impact. The latter is measured at 116 feet in diameter each.
The same crew hoisted the Space X capsule onto a marine vessel. The boat will then transport the space shuttle to the Port of Los Angeles. Once it touches the ground, the company will deliver "time-sensitive" research samples to NASA.
SpaceX Dragon: 3,600lbs of cargo
"Houston, it looks like it's time to say goodbye to Dragon," Thomas Pesquet, a European Space Agency astronaut radioed before the SpaceX capsule was released from the ISS. "There's a part of us that will come back down to Earth with her," he added. Apparently, the Dragon carries about 3,600lbs of cargo including some experiment samples directly obtained from the crew.
On the other hand, CBS News reported that Astronaut Michael Hopkins in the Johnson Space Center mission control answered: "You guys did a fantastic job." The latest campaign was just part of over two dozen planned SpaceX resupply missions in the future. Consequently, another expedition is set to be launched on March 24 from Orbital ATK. It will send more than 7,500lbs of equipment and supplies to the ISS.
For the record, the samples inside the SpaceX Dragon include a tissue from a mouse that was euthanized in orbit. Well, scientists have sent 40 mice into space to study how bone fractures heal without gravity. It hopes to finally give an answer to the question: Why do most animals and humans fail to regrow lost limbs?