SpaceX Completes Second Successful Resupply Mission As Dragon Splashes Down In Pacific
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Dragon completed another successful resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday.
SpaceX’s resupply spacecraft took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 1 atop the Falcon 9 rocket. A few hours into flight SpaceX announced its Dragon capsule was having difficulty with its thruster pods, causing Dragon to delay its arrival to the orbiting lab.
Two days later, Dragon was captured with the Canadarm2 by Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn and then brought in to rendezvous with the space station.
Crew members aboard ISS then spent three weeks swapping 1,200 pounds of cargo delivered to the station with 2,600 pounds of gear to be returned to Earth. Astronauts received experiment gear and space hardware, and returned trash, station hardware and biological samples collected and stored in freezers back to Earth.
Dragon’s return to Earth from the space station was delayed for a day due to inclement weather. Originally, the SpaceX spacecraft was scheduled to return on Monday, but storm systems forced a delay in Dragon’s splashdown attempt.
Canadarm 2 released Dragon at 6:56 a.m. for its return back to Earth, sending the spacecraft on a five-and-a-half hour journey back to Earth. Dragon’s splashdown into the Pacific Ocean took place at 12:34 p.m.
A third SpaceX commercial resupply services mission is scheduled for launch at the end of September. The commercial company earned a contract from NASA to resupply the space station back in 2011. The contract says SpaceX will fly at least 12 missions to resupply ISS with its Dragon capsule. Eventually, the capsule will be converted to a crew capsule so it could potentially replace the Space Shuttle program.
While at a South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) event in August earlier this month, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk talked about the possibility of going to Mars. He said if an astronaut wasn’t able make the journey to Mars before he died, it would be the biggest disappointment of his life.
Musk announced a plan to colonize Mars with 80,000 people within the next 20 years using SpaceX equipment. Under his plan, the first group of 10 would build a sustainable housing system pressurized with CO2, allowing future Martians to grow crops. However, before these trips to the Red Planet take place, the company still needs to get the Dragon converted, and its Grasshopper vehicle going.