SpaceX Dragon successfully departs from the International Space Station [UPDATED]

November 29, 2015 – 06:42 pm

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Update 1:03pm: SpaceX has confirmed splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, exactly on time and on target, via the following tweet: “Splashdown confirmed of Dragon in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 pm ET, about 155 miles SW of Long Beach, CA.”

The original article continues below:

NASA has announced that the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was successfully released from the International Space Station’s robotic arm this morning at 7:04am ET, by Expedition 43 robotic arm operator Scott Kelly. At this stage, the capsule will “begin a series of departure burns and maneuvers to move beyond the 656-foot (200-meter) ‘keep out sphere’ around the station and begin its return trip to Earth, ” the agency staid in a statement.

The capsule will be carrying over 3, 100 pounds of cargo and science samples spanning human research, biology and biotechnology studies, educational activities, and other physical science investigations. Dragon originally departed from Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 14th, and it arrived at the 260-mile-high space station three days later carrying 4, 300 pounds of food, supplies, and equipment to the six current residents.

SpaceX Dragon ISS

This is the sixth of 12 scheduled missions as part of a SpaceX contract with NASA worth .6 billion. The only other private space company with a NASA contract for the space station is Orbital Sciences Corporation, but the latter is temporarily out of the running following an unmanned Antares rocket explosion shortly after liftoff back in October, which destroyed the company’s Cygnus craft and 5, 000 pounds of cargo and science experiments. At the time, Orbital pointed to an engine failure thanks to a flaw in the two AJ-26s the rocket employed.

Earlier this month, SpaceX successfully ran a so-called pad abort test for its next-generation Dragon V2 spacecraft, which unlike the original version will eventually support manned missions beginning in 2017. Back in September, NASA awarded commercial spaceflight contracts totaling $6.8 billion to both Boeing and SpaceX to resume manned spaceflight after the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2011. Boeing will complete its CST-100 spacecraft and deliver up to six launches, while SpaceX will finish the Dragon V2 and has committed to six launches as well.


Source: www.extremetech.com

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