Tuesday, May 28, 2024

SpaceX Cargo Dragon Splashes Down After 36-Day Mission on International Space Station

After a successful 36-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), a SpaceX Cargo Dragon safely returned, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa, Florida.

The Cargo Dragon, named C209, spent a total of 39 days in space after its launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on March 21st. This mission marked the first utilization of the new Crew Access Tower at SLC-40, allowing easier access to the Dragon and late loading of cargo.

Undocking from the ISS at 11:10 pm ET on April 28th, the Cargo Dragon autonomously backed away from the orbiting outpost, initiating its journey back to Earth. The trunk, equipped with power-generating solar panels and additional cargo space, was jettisoned just before the Cargo Dragon’s deorbit burn, fiery re-entry, and eventual smooth splashdown, aided by its four main parachutes.

Returning with over 4,000 lbs of experiments and other cargo from the Space Station, time-sensitive experiments were promptly retrieved by a helicopter and flown back to Kennedy Space Center. The SpaceX recovery ship Shannon retrieved the capsule from the water and will transport it back to Port Canaveral for refurbishment before its next flight.

This particular Cargo Dragon has completed four round trips to the Space Station, accumulating a total of 140 days in space. With its departure, preparations are underway for Crew 8 to relocate to their own Dragon, Endeavour, from the forward port of the Harmony module to Harmony’s zenith port, a process expected to take approximately 45 minutes.

This relocation will make way for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, scheduled for its first crewed visit, with a planned launch date of May 6th.

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