The capsule splashed down on schedule at 7:44 pm EST off the coast of Baja California in the Pacific Ocean. It was recovered onto a 45-meter (150-foot) barge by a 4-person SpaceX dive team. This marks the end of the fifth commercial resupply mission by SpaceX for NASA a total 12 missions contracted to the International Space Station.
The Dragon is the only space freighter capable of reentry, making it the only ride for returning materials to the surface. The Dragon brought nearly 1, 700 kilograms (3, 700 pounds) of cargo back to Earth, including completed scientific materials. Amongst other projects, the cargo includes a crystal growth experiment developed by students in Kamloops, British Columbia that was a replacement for their original project lost in the Antares rocket explosion in October.
Splashdown of #Dragon in the Pacific from earlier today, carrying about 3, 700 lbs of cargo from the @Space_Station.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX)
The launch of this Dragon capsule was marked by a flashy secondary mission: SpaceX's first attempt at soft landing their Falcon 9 reusable rocket on an autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. While the rocket reached the barge, the landing was more "explosive" than "soft." SpaceX in planning a second attempt at landing their Falcon 9 rocket on a barge as a secondary mission to the launch of the DSCOVR satellite. So far, the launch attempt has been delayed by three days.
The Dragon loaded with supplies and ready to come home. Image credit: NASA
Elsewhere on the station, NASA astronauts Wilmore and Virts started organizing tools in advance of the three spacewalks starting on February 20th, while the Russian cosmonauts continued to pack the Progress 57 cargo tug with trash for release and destructive reentry later this month.
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