Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dragon Supply Ship Returns to Earth

Dragon capsule released by robotic arm from ISS.

Early on Tuesday morning, astronauts of Expedition 35 on the International Space Station undocked the Dragon capsule from the station and moved it away using the robotic arm. After letting the capsule gently thrust away from the station, ground engineers at SpaceX guided the craft into a deorbit pattern.  A few hours after that the craft carefully re-entered the atmosphere to a safe parachute landing in the Pacific Ocean near Baja California. It's landing was spotted and the recovery ship made a successful retrieval a short time later. 

Robotic arm holding on to Dragon, partially in shadow.

This is the second successful mission for SpaceX and its Dragon unmanned resupply spacecraft. It is the second mission of a planned dozen that SpaceX has in its contract with NASA. ANother mission is expected later this year. Unlike the Japanese, European, and Russian resupply craft, Dragon can bring back important experiments and samples. One of the items included in the 1200+ kilograms of items in Dragon's cargo included a set of Lego's which had been used in an experiment on the station.

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