A Dragon spacecraft, owned and launched by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX, returned to Earth Wednesday from the International Space Station (ISS), carrying in its hold precious scientific data, NASA said in a statement released Thursday.
The cargo spacecraft “splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:51 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 11, about 261 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, with more than 3,700 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station,” the statement said.
Before heading back to SpaceX facilities in McGregor, Texas, some of the cargo will be removed and returned to NASA. The spacecraft itself will likely undergo testing and be prepared for reuse once it reaches McGregor.
Some of the scientific experiments whose data the cargo ship brought back include technological and biological studies conducted in the microgravity of the space station. An experiment in biotechnology, for instance, “examined how microparticles interact with each other and their delivery channel in the absence of gravitational forces.”
Also among the data cache are the final batch of samples from former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly of the historic one-year mission fame. Those samples will now be analyzed to further our understanding of the effects on the human body from long stays in space.
The Dragon spacecraft had taken off from Cape Caneveral in Air Force Station Florida on April 8, carrying 7,000 pounds of cargo for the ISS. It arrived at its destination on April 10 and returned to Earth Wednesday with over 3,700 pounds of payload.