SpaceX completed the 22nd Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract (CRS-22) tonight. The Dragon spacecraft undocked from the ISS Harmony module on July 8 at 10:45 a.m. EDT after a month docked to the orbiting laboratory. The vehicle’s return was delayed by Tropical Storm Elsa that rolled into the Florida region this week. On Thursday, Dragon embarked on a return voyage that lasted approximately 36 hours. By Friday night (July 9), SpaceX’s cargo Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida south of Tallahassee.
NASA did not livestream its return voyage but SpaceX confirmed the capsule's safe return to Earth just after 11:30 p.m. “Dragon’s trunk has separated, de-orbit burn is complete, and nosecone is closed. Splashdown in ~30 minutes,” the company said before the spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere then performed a parachute-assisted splashdown in the ocean. –“Splashdown of Dragon confirmed, completing SpaceX’s 22nd cargo resupply mission to the Space Station!” the company shared in a follow-up tweet.
Splashdown of Dragon confirmed, completing SpaceX’s 22nd cargo resupply mission to the @space_station!— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 10, 2021
CRS-22 Dragon brought back around 5,000 pounds of cargo, including the results of scientific experiments that Expedition 65 astronauts conducted in microgravity at the orbiting laboratory. These science samples need to be recovered as soon as possible to minimize the effects of gravity, so that researchers can have more accurate results. SpaceX and NASA teams are now in the process of recovering the Dragon capsule from the Gulf of Mexico to take it to the Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility. The agency says that the recovery operation could take 4 to 9 hours after splashdown. Recovery teams will scoop-up Dragon from the ocean and put it on board a recovery ship. They will open the capsule and send time sensitive science cargo aboard a helicopter from the recovery ship to the Kennedy Space Center where other teams will get the cargo into the hands of researchers and scientists.
Featured Image Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.