After completing its successful mission to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX Dragon spacecraft returned back to Earth this Saturday. The End of Mission (EOM) events started with an unberthing and the release of the CRS-4/SpX-4 spacecraft from the orbital outpost, in front of a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at around 15:38 Eastern.
The SpaceX’s Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle, Dragon, Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on 21st September. Dragon had been attached to the orbiting lab for about a month.
Dragon carried around 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the ISS, including 2.5 tons of food, supplies and critical science experiments, and a first 3D printer in space. The Dragon also contains 20 mice have now taken up residency on the orbital outpost.
Barry Wilmore and Reid Wiseman, two NASA astronauts maneuvered the robotic arm attached to the space station to unbolt Dragon for its trip home this morning.
The International Space Station crew removed and stored the cargo, before refilling Dragon with downmass. Dragon is the only American vehicle capable of returning downmass since the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet.
Dragon had been expected to return some of the experiments, it brought to space, including a batch of mutant, stress-resistant fruit flies and some of the first test parts created in the 3D printer, built by the California-based company Made In Space. The capsule was also lined up to return a small crop of lettuce grown in space as part of NASA’s Veg-01 experiment, first brought to the space station during SpaceX’s last resupply mission in April.
SpaceX representatives said, Dragon splashed down west of Baja California today with 3,276 pounds (1,486 kilograms) of cargo and science experiments. However, it’s the only cargo ship that returns items to Earth intact. Dragon will be transported to the port of Los Angeles, before a trip to McGregor Texas for cargo removal.