SpaceX Dragon Makes Successful Splashdown In The Pacific
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Space Explorations Technologies´ (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down into the Pacific Ocean at 12:22 p.m. PDT (3:22 EDT) Sunday off the coast of Baja California, Mexico after successfully wrapping up its first NASA-contracted cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
“With a big splash in the Pacific Ocean today, we are reminded American ingenuity is alive and well and keeping our great nation at the cutting edge of innovation and technology development,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
The successful end of the SpaceX resupply mission comes a little more than a year after NASA retired the Space Shuttle program. “Congratulations to SpaceX and the NASA team that supported them and made this historic mission possible,” added Bolden.
With a successful splashdown in the Pacific, NASA and SpaceX will have considerable amounts of return samples to pore over, which will be tremendously beneficial to the space station´s research community. Not only is it of great benefit, but it also marks the first time NASA and its international partners have been able to return supplies for analysis since the retirement of the shuttle fleet.
This was the first of at least 12 contracted cargo resupply missions for the ISS through 2016 under NASA´s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Main Story (October 28, 2012 9:28 a.m.)
The Dragon capsule successfully undocked from the International Space Station earlier this morning, and is now headed back home for a splashdown.
Dragon arrived at the orbiting laboratory back on October 10, and since then astronauts from the Expedition 33 mission have been unloading the cargo capsule, and reloading it with supplies.
As the capsule descends past the Earth’s atmosphere, it will deploy its parachutes about 45,000 feet above sea level.
The SpaceX crew has already been waiting in the Pacific Ocean for splashdown for a few days now.
The company’s crew will load Dragon up on a boat, and will help deliver it to the company’s facility in McGregor, Texas.
With the completion of this mission, SpaceX has completed its first of twelve resupply missions to the space station that are contracted out through NASA. These contracts are worth a total of $1.6 billion and fall under the Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Only SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is capable of both carrying significant amounts of cargo to the station, and returning cargo back to Earth.
The craft is returning back used station hardware and more than a ton of scientific samples from the International Space Station.
Dragon delivered materials to support 166 experiments in plant cell biology, human biotechnology and materials technology. One experiment delivered will examine the effects of microgravity on the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans, which is present on all humans.
The mission was the first example of American capability to deliver and return cargo to the space station since the space shuttles were retired.
The Dragon capsule can be converted into a crew capsule as well, and SpaceX’s first manned flight is expected to take place in 2015.