The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft is pictured departing the vicinity of the space station following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port. Photo courtesy of NASA
Jan. 11 (UPI) — SpaceX confirmed Wednesday its Dragon cargo spacecraft successfully splashed down off the coast of Florida after returning from the International Space Station.
The uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 5:19 a.m. EST, off the coast of Tampa, Fla., marking an end to the company’s 26th contracted mission to resupply the space station for NASA.
“Once Dragon has been retrieved by SpaceX’s recovery team, the critical science aboard the spacecraft will be transported via helicopter to [Kennedy Space Center] and provided to researchers,” the company tweeted.
The spacecraft carried approximately 4,400 pounds of scientific experiments and other cargo back to Earth, including high-pressure oxygen and nitrogen gas tanks that will be refilled on the ground for a future launch.
Among the scientific experiments returning to Earth after months of testing, was a vest designed to protect astronauts from high doses of radiation caused by unpredictable solar particle events.
Crew members wore the Astrorad vest while performing daily tasks, giving feedback about fit, feel and range of motion while wearing it.
A number of aeroponic and hydroponic plants are returning to Earth for scientists to evaluate growing methods from seed germination through maturity. Similar techniques could be used to produce crops for future space missions.
The capsule arrived at the ISS about a month ago to deliver about two tons of scientific investigations and supplies. It also dropped off holiday food for astronauts living aboard, as well as eight CubeSats from teams in Brazil, the United States, Canada, Italy, and Taiwan that will be deployed later outside the space station.
Also included in the cargo now safely back on Earth’s surface is a catalytic reactor for the space station’s life support system, a pressure control and pump assembly for the urine processing system, multi-filtration beds for the station’s water processor, a mass spectrometer and hydrogen sensor, and potable water dispenser filters.
The items will be refurbished to one day return to the International Space Station.