Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft returned to Earth from the Worldwide Area Station Wednesday (Jan. 13), splashing down off the coast of Florida for the primary time ever.
The Dragon CRS-21 mission, SpaceX’s 2
1st area station cargo supply for NASA, launched Dec. 6, 2020, with 6,400 lbs. (2,903 kilograms) of provides and science tools for the seven-person crew of Expedition 64. After a one-day delay attributable to unhealthy climate on the splashdown zone, the upgraded automobile autonomously undocked from the area station for the primary time on Tuesday (Jan. 12), and it splashed down west of Tampa about 35 hours later, at 8:26 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 13 (0126 Jan. 14 GMT). Whereas earlier Dragon cargo missions have ended with parachute-assisted splashdowns within the Pacific, the newly upgraded model of SpaceX’s cargo vessel is designed to land within the
Atlantic Ocean, nearer to the science processing middle at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Associated: SpaceX’s 1st upgraded Dragon cargo ship docks itself at space station with science, goodies and new airlock
The CRS-21 mission was not solely the primary to land close to Florida, it was additionally the primary to autonomously dock at, and undock from, the International Space Station. Earlier Cargo Dragons have relied on astronauts working the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the spacecraft and berth it with the orbiting lab.
Different area cargo supply autos, like Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft and Japan’s H-II Switch Automobile, are deliberately destroyed on the finish of their missions; area station astronauts fill the capsules with trash, then use Canadarm2 to ship them off towards Earth, and so they safely fritter away within the environment. SpaceX’s Dragon, nevertheless, is a reusable spacecraft designed to soundly ship science experiments again to Earth from the area station. The Dragon CRS-21 mission returned with greater than 4,400 lbs. (2,000 kg) of “beneficial scientific experiments and different cargo,” NASA officers stated in a statement.
“The upgraded cargo Dragon capsule used for this mission comprises double the powered locker availability of earlier capsules, permitting for a big enhance within the analysis that may be delivered again to scientists,” NASA added. “Some scientists will get their analysis returned shortly, 4 to 9 hours after splashdown.”
SpaceX’s robotic Dragon capsule splashes down within the Pacific Ocean on Might 21, 2015, bringing an finish to the corporate’s sixth cargo mission to the Worldwide Area Station for NASA. (Picture credit score: SpaceX)
Among the scientific cargo on board consists of engineered coronary heart tissue, organoids grown from human stem cells, biofilms that would corrode chrome steel, zero-g fiber optics and extra.
SpaceX is planning to launch its subsequent Dragon cargo resupply mission, CRS-22, in Might of this 12 months. The corporate’s Crew Dragon capsule is presently docked with the area station and is predicted to return to Earth with its four-person crew in Might as effectively. The subsequent Dragon launch shall be one other Crew Dragon, which is scheduled to launch the Crew-2 mission with one other 4 astronauts in March.
Electronic mail Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or comply with her on Twitter @hannekescience. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.