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SpaceX Dragon Returns to Earth, Completes Homecoming Mission From the ISS

Mar 20, 2017 11:10 AM EDT
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Expedition 46 On International Space Station
A SpaceX CRS-10 Dragon capsule returned back to Earth completing its resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The capsule carried back 3,600 pounds of cargo.
(Photo : Tim Peake / ESA/NASA via Getty Images)

SpaceX's CRS-10 Dragon space capsule arrived on Earth after spending a month attached to the International Space Station (ISS). The capsule returned carrying valuable science and another payload from the space station.

The Dragon's return concluded the SpaceX mission to the ISS. The End of Mission (EOM) was marked with the capsule's splashdown into the Pacific Ocean. It is carrying a total of 3,600 pounds of cargo composed of urine samples, blood and important specimens from a rodent research that is being conducted to aid patients of bone diseases.

The CRS-10 Dragon space capsule left the Earth last Feb. 19 to deliver goods to the ISS. The completed ISS mission not only signaled the return of SpaceX' rocket launches after its 2016 suspension, but it is also the first completed Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) launched from NASA's historic launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The Complex 39A launch pad was also where the historic Apollo missions and Space Shuttle launches originated.

Before its EOM was completed, the Dragon capsule was sent to the low earth orbit using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft was then grabbed by the space station's robotic arm operated by NASA astronaut ISS commander Shane Kimbrough and flight engineer ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, according to a report.

Trip Back Home

To initiate the Dragon's homecoming, 16 bolts around the Dragon from the Node 2 Nadir CMB were released. The same robotic arm that captured it was also used to pull the capsule away from the ISS. Once released, the Dragon initiate engine burns that sent it back to Earth.

For the touchdown, the Dragon requires the use of preliminary and main parachutes. The touchdown occurred at 10:46 am last March 19. Three recovery boats conducted the recovery procedures after the splashdown.

The SpaceX recovery crew hoisted the Dragon to a vessel for its trip back to Los Angeles.

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