Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5th Dragon Cargo Ship Returns to Earth

Released from the Robotic Arm on the ISS, Dragon floats free to a safe point where it can fire thrusters. 

The fifth Dragon resupply mission to the International SPace Station (ISS) has come to a successful conclusion. In all, the Dragon space ships have made six stops at the ISS, but the first was a test mission. Of all the various cargo ships that service the station and its crew, Dragon is the only one that returns large quantities of used equipment and experiments back to the Earth for study. All the other robotic supply ships burn up during re-entry, and are usually loaded with trash or non-useable equipment.

SpaceX's Mission Control in California.

Early Tuesday afternoon, astronauts supervised the undocking of the craft from the Node 2 hatch. Using the robotic arm, they gently moved the craft away from the docking port and away from station modules and panels. The craft continued floating away as the arm gently released its grip at 2:09 p.m. Eastern time. Once the Dragon had floated to a designated safe distance from the station, ground flight controllers fired thrusters for three de-orbit burns that guided the spacecraft to a landing site in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California, splashdown occurring at about 7:44 p.m. Eastern. Awaiting them was SpaceX's recovery ship, where the craft was pulled from the water and is being taken back to Los Angeles followed by a trip to the Texas processing facility.

Dragon floats down to a watery landing.

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