NASA has confirmed that Expedition 50 astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Shane Kimbrough of NASA released the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station‘s robotic arm at 5:11 a.m. EDT on Sunday March 19th. Approximately five hours later, the capsule re-entered Earth’s orbit. At around 10:45 am ET, SpaceX confirmed that the capsule had successfully splashed down off the west coast of Baja, California.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule, which was launched to the International Space Station a month ago, has returned safely back to earth with 5,400 pounds of cargo and samples from important experiments.
With the spacecraft a safe distance from the station, SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, commanded its deorbit burn around 10 a.m. for the successful splash down at about 10:54 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean. Recovery forces retrieved the capsule and its more than 5,400 pounds of cargo. The cargo includes science samples from human and animal research, external payloads, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.
NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.
Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched Feb. 19 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and arrived at the station Feb. 23 for the company’s 10th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission.