The privately operated space company SpaceX is celebrating the return of its Dragon cargo spacecraft, loaded with scientific data, from a mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Splashing down in the Pacific Ocean 482km off the coast of California, the craft returned a payload of just over 1,500kg of scientific data and US space agency NASA equipment.
A boat will carry the Dragon spacecraft to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo, including a freezer packed with research samples collected aboard the space station, will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA in the coming days.
Some of the research samples that have returned with the craft include data aimed at better understanding how antibiotics work during spaceflight which may also have an effect on how they can be developed for those of us here on Earth.
The capsule also contains samples of plants that have been studied to understand what types of plants can be grown in space and how to better cultivate agriculture in a zero-gravity environment.
“The space station is our springboard to deep space and the science samples returned to Earth are critical to improving our knowledge of how space affects humans who live and work there for long durations,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA.
“Now that Dragon has returned, scientists can complete their analyses, so we can see how results may impact future human space exploration or provide direct benefits to people on Earth.”