Returning Dragon cargo capsule about to splash down in Pacific Ocean. Credit: SpaceX
After parking a large number of spacecraft at it's docking ports, the ISS Expedition 47 let one go: Undocking the Dragon unmanned cargo spacecraft took place on Monday in the morning. After a fiery re-entry, the parachutes opened perfectly and slowed the Dragon to a safe landing off the coast of California later in the afternoon.
Dragon spacecraft in orbit near ISS. NASA photo.
When the Dragon originally arrived back in early April, it marked the return of Dragon cargo deliveries after a one-year absence following a failed mission. This Dragon had brought almost 7,000 pounds of supplies and experiments. After 31 days of docking at the US Harmony module, the empty spacecraft was filled with supplies to return to Earth.
A view of the Japanese Kibo module, connected to the Harmony module. Dragon is shown parked underneath the modules at the Harmony docking port.
As Dragon is the only cargo spacecraft which can return safely to the Earth, instead of garbage and waste, it was filled partially with returning experiment samples stored in a couple of refrigeration containers and other time-dependent science experiments. About 3,000 pounds of items were stored carefully in the capsule.
Dragon is moved to release point by the CanadArm robotic arm. NASA TV.
Also this week, ISS astronauts achieved a significant milestone in the course of living and working in space. NASA announced on Tuesday that astronauts had taken the 3,000,000th picture aboard the station. The subject was the combined crew of expeditions 47/48:
Number 3,000,000: Front (L-R): British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, NASA astronaut and Expedition 47 commander Tim Kopra, and Roscosmos (Russia) cosmonaut (Flight Engineer) Yuri Malenchenko. Back row (L-R): Russian cosmonauts (Flight Engineers) Oleg Skripochka, Alexey Ovchinin, and NASA astronaut (Flight Engineer) Jeff Williams. Picture taken on April 30, 2016.