A robotic SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean today, bringing two tons of scientific experiments and other hardware back to Earth a month after its launch to the International Space Station.
Nearly six hours after the Dragon was released from the space station, NASA and SpaceX reported a “good splashdown” at 2:48 p.m. PT, about 200 miles southwest of Long Beach, Calif.
Among the experiments carried back down from orbit were Biophysics-6, a protein growth experiment that could produce purer pharmaceuticals for cancer treatment and radiation protection; Genes in Space-6, which marked the first experiment to use CRISPR gene-editing tools and could open the way to DNA repair in deep space; and Microalgae Biosynthesis in Microgravity, which studies the effects of zero gravity on an algae that could produce antioxidant supplements for future astronaut diets.
Today’s splashdown brought an end to SpaceX’s 17th space station resupply mission under the terms of NASA contracts. This Dragon was previously used for resupply last August. After recovery from the ocean, the craft and its cargo will be brought back to shore, with expedited processing for time-sensitive experiments.
SpaceX’s next liftoff is set for no earlier than June 11, when a Falcon 9 is due to send three Canadian Radarsat satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A Falcon Heavy launch is scheduled for June 22. That mission will send up satellites for the Air Force’s Space Test Program-2 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and will mark the first night launch of a Falcon Heavy.
The next Dragon cargo resupply mission to the space station is set for July 8.