Dragon ship back on Earth after space station trip

Oct 29, 2012 by Marcia Dunn
This photo provided by SpaceX shows an unmanned Dragon freighter during its splashdown, after leaving the International Space Station with a stash of precious medical samples and aimed for a Pacific to end the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station used a giant robot arm to release the commercial cargo ship 255 miles up. The California-based SpaceX companysteered its capsule back to Earth via parachutes on Sunday afternoon, a couple hundred miles off the Baja California coast. (AP Photo/SpaceX)

(AP)—An unmanned Dragon freighter carrying a stash of precious medical samples from the International Space Station parachuted into the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, completing the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA.

The California-based SpaceX company successfully guided the Dragon down from orbit to a splashdown a few hundred miles (kilometers) off the Baja California coast.

"This historic mission signifies the restoration of America's ability to deliver and return critical space station cargo," Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and head of SpaceX, said in a statement.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden praised the "American ingenuity" that made the endeavor possible.

Several hours earlier, astronauts aboard the used a giant robot arm to release the commercial cargo ship 255 miles (410 kilometers) up. SpaceX provided updates of the journey back to Earth via Twitter.

The supply ship brought back nearly 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of science experiments and old station equipment. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited cargo is nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts over the past year.

This photo provided by SpaceX shows an unmanned Dragon freighter that left the International Space Station with a stash of precious medical samples and aimed for a Pacific splashdown to end the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract with NASA, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station used a giant robot arm to release the commercial cargo ship 255 miles up. The California-based SpaceX company steered its capsule back to Earth via parachutes on Sunday afternoon, a couple hundred miles off the Baja California coast. (AP Photo/SpaceX)

The Dragon is the only delivery ship capable of returning items, now that NASA's shuttles are retired to museums. Atlantis made the last shuttle haul to and from the station in July 2011.

SpaceX—more formally Space Exploration Technologies Corp.—launched the capsule three weeks ago from Cape Canaveral, full of groceries, clothes and other station supplies. Ice cream as well as fresh apples were especially appreciated by the station residents, now back up to a full crew of six.

It's the second Dragon to return from the orbiting lab; the first mission in May was a flight demo. This flight is the first of 12 deliveries under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.

"It was nice while she was on board," space station commander Sunita Williams said as the Dragon backed away. "We tamed her, took her home and, literally and figuratively, there's a piece of us on that spacecraft going home to Earth."

She added to the SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California: "Congratulations Hawthorne and thank you for her."

The Dragon will be retrieved from the Pacific and loaded onto a 100-foot (30-meter) boat that will haul it to Los Angeles. From there, it will be transported to McGregor, Texas.

The medical samples will be removed as quickly as possible, and turned over to NASA within 48 hours of splashdown, according to SpaceX. Everything else will wait for unloading in McGregor.

A Russian supply ship, meanwhile, is set to blast off this week. It burns up upon descent, however, at mission's end. So do the cargo vessels provided by Europe and Japan.

SpaceX is working to transform its Dragon cargo craft into vessels that American astronauts could fly in another four or five years. Until or another U.S. company is able to provide rides, NASA astronauts must rely on Russian rockets to get to and from the space station.

Explore further: Innovative use of pressurant extends MESSENGER's mission, enables collection of new data

4.9 /5 (12 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Full Dragon exits space station, Earth next stop

Oct 28, 2012

(AP)—An unmanned Dragon freighter left the International Space Station on Sunday with a stash of precious medical samples and aimed for a Pacific splashdown to end the first official shipment under a billion-dollar contract ...

Recommended for you

The top 101 astronomical events to watch for in 2015

Dec 24, 2014

Now in its seventh year of compilation and the second year running on Universe Today, we're proud to feature our list of astronomical happenings for the coming year. Print it, bookmark it, hang it on your ...

NASA image: Frosty slopes on Mars

Dec 24, 2014

This image of an area on the surface of Mars, approximately 1.5 by 3 kilometers in size, shows frosted gullies on a south-facing slope within a crater.

User comments : 16

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mike_Massen
3.3 / 5 (12) Oct 29, 2012
Brilliant positive move, I hope as the craft are new, the company has opportunity to take advantage of the best and comprehensive data-logging in many direct and tangential respects to advance our understanding of as much as possible of the relevant dynamics involved in launching, exposing craft to space environment to orbit and recovery.

Great news for the company and overall advancement of the human condition, thanks for the report.
ScottyB
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 29, 2012
Great news!! congratulations space X on a fantastic job!

Cant wait to see the man rated version!
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.9 / 5 (23) Oct 29, 2012
Brilliant positive move, I hope as the craft are new, the company has opportunity to take advantage of the best and comprehensive data-logging in many direct and tangential respects to advance our understanding of as much as possible of the relevant dynamics involved in launching, exposing craft to space environment to orbit and recovery.
...What? WTF are you talking about?? 'Direct and tangential'...'relevant dynamics'...? You're pussytard pretending to be yet somebody else arent you? You moron. This and all the other crap you've been posting, as well as not knowing what the word 'new' means...

You've been outed again.
Sanescience
4.8 / 5 (4) Oct 29, 2012
"SpaceX is working to transform its Dragon cargo craft into vessels that American astronauts could fly in another four or five years."

Um, one of SpaceX goal is for commonality among its systems. The cargo and crew configurations will be nearly identical. No "transformation".

The date quoted by SpaceX for earliest launch of a crew is mid 2015, or about 2.5 years.

philw1776
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 29, 2012
Congrats again to SpaceX!
Elon Musk is a great role model for other African Americans
dcoder
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 29, 2012
Brilliant positive move, I hope as the craft are new, the company has opportunity to take advantage of the best and comprehensive data-logging in many direct and tangential respects to advance our understanding of as much as possible of the relevant dynamics involved in launching, exposing craft to space environment to orbit and recovery.


Note to self: Do not post on phys.org when drunk or taking hallucinogens.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (3) Oct 29, 2012
Private enterprise SpaceX does more than what that South Korean nation is still working on getting right. And they make such good TV's! I don't get it.
Mike_Massen
2.9 / 5 (9) Oct 29, 2012
Private enterprise SpaceX does more than what that South Korean nation is still working on getting right. And they make such good TV's! I don't get it.
They make good consumer goods because they have no interest in world domination or being the world's policeman, didn't u mean North Korean ?

Its sad dcoder & TheGhostofOtto1923 have difficulty understanding moderately complex issues re datalogging, something I have been involved with since 1980. You two might also make some effort to differentiate static from dynamic paradigms & appreciation the design of the SpaceX engines are new & not directly related to the old 1970's designs by Nasa...

TheGhostofOtto1923 please check the colour of your medication vs the colour of those fertiliser beads & dont worry that the nurse is female... dcoder getting on the bandwagon makes you a lazy follower, a mere automaton, not an original thinker.

I am willing to extend upon the para those took objection to, I aim to educate where necessary.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.1 / 5 (23) Oct 29, 2012
Its sad dcoder & TheGhostofOtto1923 have difficulty understanding moderately complex issues re datalogging, something I have been involved with since 1980. You two might also make some effort to differentiate static from dynamic paradigms & appreciation the design of the SpaceX engines are new & not directly related to the old 1970's designs by Nasa...
Oh come on mikey you are just someone who tries to use big words you are not familiar with to try to appear more knowledgable than you really are, but you stumble on words such as 'new'. In other words you are a posturer, an imposter.

Your profile page is full of details which no typical poster would ever include (mm-DD-yy???) Pussytard would do all these things in an imbecilic attempt to establish yet another lame identity. The actual content of your posts exposes you for who or at least what you are - the same loser in a different guise.

So now you are a fake datalogger?? You freaking moron.
Mike_Massen
3.2 / 5 (11) Oct 29, 2012
TheGhostofOtto1923 randomly muttered
So now you are a fake datalogger?? You freaking moron.
You are showing immense incompetence and really need good medication. Any moderately mature person could so easily make an effort to look me up on facebook AND phone book AND compare histories with anyone claimed, I understand there is linguistic analysis software to do this which has a high certainty in its ability to distinguish many fake personalities etc.

Please TheGhostofOtto1923 get an education !

Your narrow understanding of why people do or do not decide to include a birthday or other details reflects on your ignorance and not upon any aspect of my intention, clearly I am open, gregarious and relaxed as a long time researcher and educator, whereas YOU are closed, angry, suspicious, quick to criticise for its own sake and be negative with malevolent intent and careless to accuse and call me childish names.

Check first before you make a fool of yourself (yet) again.

(shakes head)
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.8 / 5 (25) Oct 29, 2012
I understand there is linguistic analysis software to do this which has a high certainty in its ability to distinguish many fake personalities etc.
Ahaaahaahahaha pure pussytard. No software required.
I am open, gregarious and relaxed as a long time researcher and educator
-who doesnt know how to look up words like 'new' and keep from making an fool of himself (yet) again? Ahaahaaaaha. Pussytard is now a fake edumacater.
I am willing to extend upon the para those took objection to, I aim to educate where necessary.
Uh, what? Ahaaahaaahahaha.
Estevan57
2 / 5 (27) Oct 29, 2012
Otto, take your meds, you're ranting again.
JohnoPolo
5 / 5 (2) Oct 31, 2012
philw1776 : "Elon Musk is a great role model for other African Americans"

He most certainly is NOT an African American!
Sanescience
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2012
Come on Johno, word play. He is from South Africa.

Everyone else needs to get off their outrage soap box and lighten up.
JohnoPolo
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2012
Come on Johno, word play. He is from South Africa.

It's hardly a matter of semantics. The term "African American" specifically refers to people living in the USA who are of African origin and who are "Black". Elon Musk simply does not fit that description. If you wish to de-racialise the term "African American", I'm all for it - but this forum probably isn't your best starting point.
Mike_Massen
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2012
The recent issue regarding race and origin is yet another facet of some being sloppy with linguistics, I was under the impression Musk was caucasian, not that it matters that much but, it does matter we be precise, it is a science based reporting forum after-all.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.