Dragon, the reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, March 19, as anticipated.
The space capsule carrying over 5,400 pounds of cargo from NASA, which included supplies to the International Space Station and research items, had taken off on Feb. 19 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch of the resupply mission to the ISS was SpaceX's first from NASA's iconic LC-39A pad, which had been used for the Apollo mission to the moon in 1969.
However, the unmanned Dragon capsule encountered a glitch on its way to the ISS, but finally docked at the ISS on Feb. 24 after the delay.
Dragon Spacecraft Returns
The Dragon has now journeyed back to Earth, splashing into the Pacific Ocean in the process. The cargo craft splashed down off the coast of Baja California. The space capsule was retrieved easily from there by a recovery team. The capsule left the ISS early on Sunday morning. It was released by astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet via a robotic arm.
The Dragon's splashdown occurred at 10:48 a.m. EDT, and SpaceX confirmed the capsule's arrival via Twitter post.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 19, 2017
Some of the materials inside the Dragon will be removed and delivered to NASA immediately. The capsule will head back to McGregor, Texas where SpaceX's research facility is located. Here, the rest of the cargo from the spacecraft will be recovered.
What The Spacecraft Has Brought Back
Innumerable types of space research are being conducted on the ISS. Some of the materials sent back to Earth via the Dragon will undoubtedly shed light on the progress of these important studies.
"Everything from stem cells that could help us understand how human cancers start and spread after being exposed to near zero-gravity, to equipment that is paving the way toward servicing and refueling satellites while they're in orbit will be on board," stated NASA officials.
Some of the biological studies which are underway at the ISS, and whose data the spacecraft has brought back, include research on the effect of microgravity on stem cells. This study will help in future space explorations. It will also offer an insight into the spread of cancer in the body and ways to treat it.
The other vital study is that the scientists are persevering to decode how tissue can be regenerated, and the impact of microgravity on the process. The results of this research may lead to methods of re-growing lost limbs in humans in the near future.
The Dragon is SpaceX's 10th cargo delivery mission for NASA under the terms of the contract.